In 1814, at 19, he was serving as third lieutenant in Commodore Thomas Macdonough’s flagship Saratoga on Lake Champlain.
While commanding light vessels of the squadron on 6 September, five days before the Battle of Lake Champlain, Lt. Duncan was hit by a cannon ball, which carried away his entire right shoulder and inflicting other severe injuries. While at the time these were perceived be fatal, he survived.
A month later, Congress passed a resolution “as a testimony ... of [Duncan’s] distinguished gallantry and good conduct.” Due to oversight compounded by his own reticence, however, he was not granted a navy pension until 19 years later.
From 1818 to 1824, Commander Duncan saw active service on Indepencence, Hornet, Guerriere, Cyane and Ferret.
Promoted captain, he died on 14 September 1834 at White Sulphur Springs, Virginia (now West Virginia).
Source: Office of Naval Records and Ships' Histories Section, Navy Department and Naval Historical Center DANFS History.