Laurence Halstead – Brigadier General, United States Army


Laurence Halstead was born on 21 October 1875 in Riverside, a suburb of Cincinnati, Ohio.

Upon graduation from the United States Military Academy in 1899, he was assigned to Puerto Rico and then to the Philippines, where he served with the 13th Infantry. In 1903, he married Anna Louise Maus and moved to San Francisco as the commanding officer of the Army Disciplinary Barracks at Alcatraz Island.  Halstead was instrumental in developing the finger printing method that is used today for identification of criminals.

General Arthur MacArthur sent Halstead to Washington, D.C., to Army Headquarters to brief the Army staff on the invention that now is used worldwide. Halstead had tours of duty in West Virginia and Montana and then at the School of the Line at Fort Leavenworth. He completed the Staff College as an honor student. After another assignment in the Philippines, he went to Corregidor Island and then to Mexico to pursue Pancho Villa.

World War I saw Halstead serve as the Chief of Staff of the 84th Division in Kentucky and then as the Chief of Staff for the First Army in France. He later was an instructor in Artillery Studies at the Army Center in Trier, Germany.  In 1923-25 he attended the Army War College in Washington, DC, and then was assigned to the 27th Infantry in Hawaii. The 27th Infantry was nicknamed the “Wolfhounds” by Halstead.

Halstead returned to the United States to become the Chief of Staff of the VII Corps Headquarters in Nebraska. His next assignment was as the commander of the 12th Infantry Regiment at Fort Howard, where he was promoted to Brigadier General.  After his promotion, General Halstead was assigned to the Panama Canal Zone as the Ccommanding General of the Pacific Sector. During that tour, he wrote the military plans for the defense of the canal.

Before his retirement, he was the Commanding General of the First Army in New York, where he commanded the first Army-Navy Amphibious Operation in Puerto Rico. He retired in 1939 due to a heart condition after 40 years of service. For his service in World War I, General Halstead received the Distinguished Service Medal.

Halstead enjoyed a pleasant retirement in Washington, D.C., where he painted, wrote poetry, and sailed on his cabin cruiser. He died in Washington, DC, on 5 June 1953 at age 77.   He was buried with full military honors in Section 15 of Arlington National Cemetery.

NOTE: His father, Benton Halstead, Colonel, United States Army, is also buried in Arlington National Cemetery.


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