|You might be familiar with the story of Daniel Boones younger
brother Edward "Ned" Boone. The circumstances surrounding Edwards death,
in which Indians kill him while hunting with Daniel in October of 1780, are still being
investigated by some of Edwards descendants today. Perhaps less familiar is the
story of Edwards son, Joseph Boone.
Joseph was about 12-years-old and living at Boone Station when his father was
killed.  Young Joseph would grow into a man and come very close to meeting the same
fate as his father. Joseph would receive a battle wound similar to the one inflicted on
his famous uncle at the "Siege of Fort Boonesborough" in 1778. During the first
shots of that siege Daniel Boone was struck in the ankle with a rifle ball. Just as Simon
Kenton carried a wounded Daniel Boone to the safety of the fort gates, comrades would
likewise carry a wounded Joseph Boone to safety on another battlefield years later.
Joseph Boone was born about 1768 in Rowan County,
North Carolina. He may have accompanied his father and uncle to Kentucky during the
migration of 1779. After his fathers murder in 1780 Daniel and other family members
helped care for the widowed Martha Bryan Boone and her children. In the mid-1780s Joseph
Boone and his brother George worked on their Uncle Daniels survey crew: Joseph as a
chain-hauler and George as a marker. 
While a resident of Fayette County, Kentucky, Joseph
Boone enlisted in early October 1790 as a private in the Kentucky Militia , nicknamed
the "Limestone Volunteers". By this time some Indian tribes, chiefly the
Miami with the Delaware, Shawnee and others, had formed the Miami Confederacy.
Led by Chief Little Turtle, Chief Blue Jacket, and
Simon Girty, these tribes presented an obstacle to western expansion by attacking white
settlements in the Ohio Valley. President George Washington ordered Brigadier General
Josiah Harmar to lead an army into the northern Ohio Valley to counter these Indian
attacks. Harmars army consisted of 320 regular soldiers and 1,133 poorly trained
militiamen mostly from Kentucky and Pennsylvania.
Little Turtle of the Miami Confederacy
October 22, 1790 Private Joseph Boone marched into battle. He was assigned to a detachment
of several-hundred militiamen and a few regular soldiers led by Colonel John Hardin under
the command of General Harmar. Many of the militiamen had eagerly enlisted and were
full of bravado: wanting to go off and fight Indians. Perhaps few of them had a better
reason than Joseph Boone. It had been ten years since the Shawnee killed his father in
Josephs detachment was ordered to swing around the junction of
the St. Joseph and St. Marys rivers and attack the Maumee Indian village at
present-day Fort Wayne, Indiana. Indian scouts spotted the impending attack and the Indian
forces ambushed Josephs detachment near the riverbank.
General Josiah Harmer
the battle, which would become known as "Harmar's Defeat", Indians overran the
inexperienced Americans. Most of the militiamen fled without firing a shot. Left
unsupported by the militia, the regulars put up a brief resistance, but the Indians cut
them to pieces. 
Boone was shot in his left ankle by an enemy rifle ball. The ball entered the front of his
ankle, passed through the bone, and lodged in the back of his ankle under the skin.
The Indians, chasing after the fleeing militiamen, ran right past the wounded Joseph.
Soon the Indians would return to scalp the dead and wounded. Joseph, rendered unable to
walk, would present a tempting target.
In an act of selfless courage, two militiamen came
to Joseph and carried him off the open field of battle when all others had retreated. They
hid Joseph in some secluded place: possibly drift logs or bushes. Josephs comrades
stayed with him in seclusion the rest of the day. In the evening, when they would be less
likely to be spotted, the two soldiers left Joseph with his gun. They promised to
return. It would take a horse to carry Joseph back to safety, and what horses the
American force had with it were probably either dead, taken by the Indians, or with those
who fled from the battle.
Later that night Josephs thirst became
intolerable. He crept out from his hiding place and down a hollow where he quenched his
thirst with water from a tree branch. Joseph then went back to his hiding place,
clinging to faith that his fellow soldiers would keep their word and return to rescue him.
The two militiamen caught up with remnants of Harmars
retreating army. They pleaded for others to join them in going back to save Private Boone.
Considering such a return to be too dangerous,
no one would agree to go. The two militiamen announced they would return alone and bring
Boone back, or die trying. Impressed by such determination, several others joined them.
Jeffery L. Johnson
(Click to enlarge)
On the second night the
small band of Americans made it back to the dead-strewn battlefield.  It was uncertain
if Boone would still be alive. Could he have bled to death? Could the Indians have found
him already? Success was not guaranteed and such doubts must have accompanied these brave
men on their endeavor.
The Americans had no small amount of difficulty finding Boone in the
dark.  They passed near him several times. Joseph, fearing they were Indians, had his
gun at the ready. He determined if they came near him again he would shoot.
As the Americans once more approached Josephs
hiding place one of them said, "If this isnt the log, then we are mistaken as
to the place." Joseph heard and recognized the voice. Elated, he called out to them.
Joseph Boone was carried by horse to
Fort Washington at present-day Cincinnati where he stayed for 21 days. A military surgeon
removed the rifle ball from his ankle. Rendered unfit for further military service, Joseph
was taken by water to Louisville and carried home by horse to Fayette County, Kentucky.
The Indians referred to
"Harmar's Defeat" as "The Battle of the Pumpkin Fields" because the
steam rising off all the scalped skulls left on the riverbank reminded them of squash
steaming in the autumn air. General Harmar had lost 183 men killed or missing during
this campaign. Harmar was subsequently court-martialed for incompetence and acquitted.
Private Joseph Boone and his two
comrades may have been the only Americans to remain on the battlefield and survive the
first major engagement of the United States Army under the newly formed Federal
Government: an engagement that ended in disaster. This embarrassing defeat would
eventually lead to the decisive American victory at "The Battle of Fallen
Timbers" a few years later.
Discharged from the militia, life went on for Joseph
Boone. On June 4, 1794 he married Rebecca Fry-Lock, a widow, in Clark County, Kentucky.
Joseph and Rebecca had three children: Joseph, Jr., Martha, and Lucinda. Joseph, Sr. and
his family subsequently moved to Madison County, Kentucky and then to Bath County,
Kentucky. On November 20, 1827, Joseph, Sr. bought 80 acres of land in Shelby County,
Indiana, about 4 miles SW of Shelbyville, and moved there. His three children and their
families joined him. 
Joseph, Sr. initially held off on applying for a
pension for his war wound because he had children at home who could help support him. By
1833 his children were grown and gone. Joseph, Sr. was classified 2/3 disabled by a
Shelby County physician. He applied for and on September 25, 1833 was issued a pension of
$5.33 1/3 per month for the rest of his life.
In Joseph, Sr.s pension affidavit he writes,
"His engagements since the wound was received have been farming and this is the only
source whence he can now procure a livelihood. As his age increases the wound in his ankle
becomes more painful, and renders his disability to labour much greater. The wound being
at the joint, exercise of the limb causes the joint to open and the ankle to swell, which
becomes very painful and greatly injures his repose at night." Joseph Boone and
his uncle Daniel Boone; both men would suffer from a painful rifle ball injury in their
ankle for the rest of their lives. 
|Joseph Boone, Sr.'s signature from his pension affidavit
Sr.s wife Rebecca probably died about 1839. He married 2nd wife Nancy Messick later
that same year. Joseph, Sr. presumably died in Shelby County, Indiana in June 1847.
There is no listing of his gravesite in the records of the Shelbyville, Indiana Public
Librarys Genealogy Department. Their records only list graves with markers. It is
likely that Joseph Boone, Sr. was buried on or near his farm in Shelby County, Indiana.
An interesting side note to Joseph, Sr.s story
is the relationship between Blue Jacket, who led the Indians at "Harmars
Defeat", and the Boone Family. The young Shawnee chief was an acquaintance of Daniel
Boone and hunting partner of his son Daniel Morgan Boone. Blue Jacket had once told the
Boones that he would see to it that none of the Limestone, Kentucky people would be taken
captive by the Shawnee. 
Shawnee Chief Blue Jacket (center)
1788, two years before "Harmars Defeat", Blue Jacket was beat up by some
Kentuckians who thought he was a horse thief. Blue Jacket indicated to his captors in
broken English that he is a friend of Daniel Boone. The Kentuckians took him to Daniel
Boone at Limestone to find out for sure before doing anything rash. Daniel tied up Blue
Jacket in a cabin and assured the men that their prisoner was "hog tight". Boone
then invited the men to his tavern where he got them drunk. The men awoke the next morning
to find Blue Jacket gone. Boone explained that a knife happened to be stuck in the cabin
wall and Blue Jacket must have somehow worked his way to it and cut himself loose. Despite
subsequent years of warfare between the Indians and the whites [and apparently despite
Joseph Boone, Sr.s close call at "Harmars Defeat"], Daniel Boone and
Blue Jacket remained friends the rest of their lives. 
Although Indians probably would have
scalped Joseph Boone had they noticed him lying wounded on the battlefield a couple years
later, how might Blue Jacket have treated Daniel Boones nephew had Joseph been taken
captive? Would Blue Jacket have felt betrayed? Or would he have nursed Joseph back to
health? Would Joseph Boone have found a reciprocal knife stuck in a wall? Thanks to the
brave men who saved Private Joseph Boone, such questions remain only for us to ponder.
[1,2,3,24,26,29] Edward Boone of Pennsylvania,
North Carolina, Kentucky and Some Of His Descendants Who Lived In Shelby County, Indiana
and Points West, by Gerald E. Collins
 Shelbyville, Indiana Public Library Genealogy
Department: Data sheet provided by Gerald E. Collins
 National Guard Association of Kentucky:
 GlobalSecurity.org/Miami Campaign
 LittleTurtle.net: Harmars Defeat
 OhioHistoryCentral.org: Harmars Defeat
 Kentucky Historical Society: telephone interview
 OhioHistoryCentral.org: Ohio Indian Wars
[11,20,25,27] Pension affidavit filed by Joseph
Boone, 14 Jan 1833, Shelby County, Indiana Probate Court
[12,14,16] Draper Mss. 22 S 272
[13,18,19] Draper Mss. 19 C 151-152
[15,17] Draper Mss. 19 C 67-68
 Nancynall.com, Archives, 18 Nov 2003:
"The Indians, a historian told me, refer to that fight as the Battle of the Pumpkin
Fields, because so many scalped skulls were left on the riverbank, steaming in the autumn
air, that it looked like a field of squash ready for picking."
 OhioHistoryCentral.org: Josiah Harmar
 General William W. Hartzog, American
Military Heritage (Ft Monroe, VA, & Washington, DC: Government Printing Office,
1998), p. 21: "The first major military operation of the United States Army ended in
 Daniel Boone: The Life and Legend of An
American Pioneer, by John Mack Faragher, p. 149
[30, 31] Daniel Boone: The Life and Legend of An
American Pioneer, by John Mack Faragher, p. 259-260
 "Shame With No Name", by
John Hoyt Willams, "Great Battles" Magazine, Oct. 2004