Duncan, Joseph Wilson was born on June 29, 1853 in in tent in army camp on bank Nueces River, Texas, United States. Son of General Thomas (United States of America) and Mary Shields (Wilson) D.
Educated preparatory school, Griswold (Iowa) College, public schools, Nashville, Tennessee, and Columbian College (now George Washington University).
With Professor F. V. Hayden on geological survey of the Yellowstone, 1871, and latter part of same year was on cattle range in W. Nebraska. Second in command Lieutenant 21st Infantry, October 1, 1873. First lieutenant, May 10, 1878.
Captain, April 24, 1888. Major 13th Infantry, March 2, 1899. Lieutenant colonel, October 16, 1901.
Colonel 6th Infantry, August 9, 1903. Promoted brigadier general United States Army, January 4, 1911. Participated in Indian Wars (including Nez Perce, 1877, Bannock, 1878, Sioux, 1890-1891) and numerous expeditions on the plains and mountains for 20 years.
Took part in battle of San Juan Hill, and siege of Santiago de Cuba, to surrender, Spanish-American War. In P.I., 1899-1902, 1905-1906. Organized expedition and commanded forces engaged in battle of Bud Dajo, Jolo (“battle of the Lava Cone”), with Moros, March 5-8, 1906, 25 per cent of his command having been killed or wounded.
Detailed on general staff, August 15, since 1907. Bvtd. First lieutenant “for gallantry in battle of Clearwater, Idaho, July 11-12, 1877, Nez Perce Indian War”. Recommended for major, by brevetted, “for gallantry in front of Santiago de Cuba, July 1, 1898”.
Recommended by commanding general P.I. Division for promotion to brigadier general “for conduct of affairs in three days’ battle against Moros.” Commanding Department of Texas, January since 1911.
Married Catherine Amelia Keefer, October 10, 1878.