John Hardin (1753–1792) was a Continental Army officer in the American Revolutionary War and a Kentucky militia commander in the Northwest Indian War. He was killed while serving as an emissary in the latter war.
Born in Fauquier County, Virginia, Hardin was a noted marksman and hunter. In 1774, he was made an ensign in the militia and served in Dunmore's War. In the Revolution, he was a lieutenant in the 8th Pennsylvania Regiment and was wounded at Saratoga while serving under Colonel Daniel Morgan.
After the war, he settled in Washington County, Kentucky in 1786. As a militia Captain in 1786, he led a successful attack on a Piankeshaw village near Vincennes, Indiana which, unfortunately, had been allies of the Americans. In August 1789, he led another militia expedition to the Terre Haute, Indiana area where he attacked a Shawnee village and returned to Kentucky with twelve scalps.
Hardin was promoted to colonel and engaged Indians north of the Ohio River. In 1790, he led the Kentucky militia on the disastrous Harmar Campaign. His defeat began a long succession of American losses to Miami Chief Little Turtle. In 1791, he led a force of 60 Kentucky mounted militia in the destruction of a large Kickapoo village near the mouth of the Big Pine Creek, as part of General Charles Scott's campaign to destroy Ouiatenon.
In April 1792, President George Washington sent him to negotiate a peace with the Shawnee Indians. In what is now Shelby County, Ohio he met with some of the Shawnee, who offered to escort him to their village. Instead, that night they murdered him. Also killed was a servant of Hardin's named Freeman. A guide named John Flinn - who had lived among the Indians after being captured while a boy - survived and later settled in Miami County, Ohio.
It is alleged that the site of the town of Hardin (located in Turtle Creek Township on Sections 29;30;31;32) stands in the very section where Colonel Hardin was killed.