Of the active as well as the passive fortitude of the Indian character, the following is an instance related by Adair in his travels.
A party of the Seneca Indians came to war against the Ka-tah-be, or Catawba, bitter enemies to each other. In the woods the former discovered a sprightly warrior belonging to the latter, hunting in their usual light dress; on his perceiving them, he sprang off for a hollow rock four or five miles distant, as they intercepted him from running homeward. He was so extremely swift and skilful with the gun, as to kill seven of them in the running fight before they were able to surround and take him. They carried him to their country in sad triumph; but though he had filled them with uncommon grief and shame for the loss of so many of their kindred, yet the love of martial virtue induced them to treat him, during their long journey with a great deal more civility than if he had acted the part of a coward. The women and children when they met him at their several towns, beat and whipped him in as severe manner as the occasion required, according to their law of justice, and at last he was formally condemned to die by the fiery torture. It might reasonably be imagined that what he had for sometime gone through by being fed with a scanty hand, a tedious march, lying on the bare ground at night, exposed to the changes of the weather, with his arms and legs extended in a pair of rough stocks, and suffering such punishments on entering their hostile towns, as a prelude to those sharp torments for which he was destined, would so have impaired his health, and effected his imagination as to have sent him to his long sleep, out of the way of more sufferings. Probably this would have been the case with the major part of white people under similar circumstances; but I never knew this with any of the Indians; and this cool headed, brave warrior did not deviate from their rough lessons of martial virtue, but acted his part so well as to surprise and sorely vex his numerous enemies; for when they were taking him unpinioned, in their wild parage, to the place of torture, which lay near to a river, he suddenly dashed down those who stood in his way, sprung off and plunged into the water, swimming underneath like and otter, only rising to take breath, till he reached the opposite shore. He now ascended the steep bank; but though he had good reason to be in a hurry, as many of the enemy were in the water, and other running, very like blood hounds, in pursuit of him, and the bullets flying around him from the time he took the river, yet his heart did not allow him to leave them abruptly without taking leave in a formal manner, in return for the extraordinary favors they had done and intended to do him. After his slapping a part of his body in defiance to them, he put up the shrill war-whoop as his last salute, till some more convenient opportunity offered, ' darted in the manner of a beast broke loose from its torturing enemies. He continued his speed so as to run by about midnight of the same day as far as his pursuers were two days in reaching. There he rested, till he happily discovered five of those Indians who pursued him. He lay hid a little way off their camp till they were sound asleep. Every circumstance of his situation occurred to him and inspired him with heroism. He was naked, torn and hungry, and his enraged enemies were come up with him-but there was everything to relieve his wants, and a fair opportunity to save his life, and get great honor and sweet revenge by cutting them off. Resolution, a convenient spot, and sudden surprise, would effect the main object of his wishes, and hopes. He accordingly creeped (sic), and took one of their tomahawks, and killed them all on the spot, clothed himself, took a choice gun, and as much ammunition and provisions as he could well carry in a running march. He set of afresh with a light heart, ' did not sleep for several processive nights, only when he reclined as usual, a little before day, with his back to a tree. As it were by instinct when he found he was free from the pursuing enemy, he made directly to the very place where he had killed seven of his enemies, and was taken for the fiery torture. He digged(sic) them up, burnt their bodies to ashes and went home in safety with singular triumph. Other pursuing enemies came on the evening of the second day, to the camp of their dead people, when the sight gave them a greater shock than they had ever known before.- In their chilled war Council they concluded, that as he had done such surprising things in his defence before he was captivated, and since in his naked condition, and now was well armed, if they continued the pursuit, he would spoil them all, for he surely was an enemy wizard; and therefore they returned home.
Cherokee Nation, 11th March 1829