As a member of the United States Navy, he won the prestigious Medal of Honor for helping guide the USS Saginaw to safety in 1870. The Navy destroyer the USS Halford is named in his honor.
He joined the U.S. Navy in 1869 and saw thirty-four years of active duty.
At the end of his life, he came out of retirement to assist the Navy during World War I.
Born in Gloucestershire, England, he later relocated to the United States.
He and Abraham Desomer were both recipients of the U.S. Navy's Medal of Honor.