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110. Incidents Of Personal Heroism

In the Cherokee war of 1760 when small bodies of the enemy, according to Haywood, were pushing, their inroads eastward almost to Salisbury, a party of six or eight warriors was discovered, watched, and followed until they were seen to enter a deserted cabin to pass the night. The alarm was given, and shortly before daylight the whites surrounded the house, posting themselves behind the fodder stack and some outbuildings so as to command both the door and the wide chimney top, They then began to throw fire upon the roof to drive out the Indians, when, as the blaze caught the dry shingles, and death either by fire or bullet seemed certain, one of the besieged warriors called to his companions that it was better that one should be a sacrifice than that all should die, and that if they would follow his directions he would save them, but die himself. He proposed to sally out alone to draw the fire of the besiegers, while his friends stood

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ready to make for the woods as soon as the guns of the whites were empty. They agreed, and the door was opened, when he suddenly rushed forth, dodging and running in a zigzag course, so that every gun was emptied at him before he fell dead, covered with wounds. While the whites were reloading, the other warriors ran out and succeeded in reaching the woods before the besiegers could recover from their surprise. The historian adds, "How greatly it is to be regretted that the name of this hero is not known to the writer, that it might be recorded with this specimen of Cherokee bravery and patriotism, firmness and presence of mind in the hour of danger."[1]

More than once women seem to have shown the courage of warriors when the occasion demanded. At the beginning of the last century there was still living among the Cherokee a woman who had killed her husband's slayer in one of the Revolutionary engagements. For this deed she was treated with so much consideration that she was permitted to join the warriors in the war dance, carrying her gun and tomahawk. The Wahnenauhi manuscript has a tradition of an attack upon a Cherokee town and the killing of the chief by a hostile war party. His wife, whose name was Cuhtahlatah (Gatûñ'lätï, "Wild-hemp"?), on seeing her husband fall, snatched up his tomahawk, shouting, "Kill! Kill!" and rushed upon the enemy with such fury that the retreating Cherokee rallied and renewed the battle with so great courage as to gain a complete victory. This may be a different statement of the same incident.

In Rutherford's expedition against the Cherokee, in 1776, the Indians made a stand near Waya gap, in the Nantahala mountains, and a hard-fought engagement took place, with a loss to the Americans of nineteen men, although the enemy was finally driven from the ground. After the main body had retreated, an Indian was seen looking out from behind a tree, and was at once shot and killed by the soldiers, who, on going to the spot, found that it was a woman, painted and stripped like a warrior and armed with bow and arrows. She had already been shot through the thigh, and had therefore been unable to flee with the rest.

Next: 111. The Mounds And The Constant Fire: The Old Sacred Things