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DID MARSHAL NEY DIE IN AMERICA ?

By Pascal Cazottes, FINS

Translated by Jinny Addesa

 

Here is a title that will make jump all those who believe that History is written once and for all. But, as a matter of fact, what do we really know about the past, apart from what we have really wanted to leave for all to see? History has its "bottom", which is of a paramount importance since it directly generates the great History. Thus, no one was surprised at the amazing battle of Valmy, finding it quite natural that a seasoned army would do an about-face after having heard the first canon shots. We forget a little too easily that there can be no effect without cause. From this principle, the attitude of the Prussians at Valmy appears to be completely incomprehensible, unless we know that the Freemason Danton had organized this charade with his "brother" Brunswick, who had gained, in passing, a beautiful diamond coming from the Crown of France!

Regarding the death of Marshal Ney, some will argue that we have a record of his execution, and that the British officers were present when the squad fired. Ah yes? And what does this prove? The witnesses may well have been deceived by clever staging, as some observers could also have been aware of the secret of the organized deception.

The reader may also wonder about the reasons that led us to believe that the Marshal did not die as it is stated in the history books. Indeed, the question would not even have arisen if, in the United States, a man by the name of Peter Stuart Ney had not confessed to another identity, that of the famous Marshal of France.

We are the 15 th of November 1846. An old professor, respected by everyone, dies in Rowan County, North Carolina. Lying on his death bed, he finds the strength to say a few words to his friends who surround him: "I will not die with a lie on the lips. I am Marshal Ney of France". One can imagine the trouble, if not the amazement, which also immediately sweeps over the audience. A dying man has just admitted that he is not the one that he has always claimed to be. But what did he claim exactly? And what do we really know about him? In fact, his origins are as mysterious as his last words.

Peter Stuart Ney seems to have appeared in the United States as if by magic. One day in 1819, a fifty year old man presents himself in the small village of Cheraw (*), in South Carolina, to apply for a position as a teacher, which he knows to be vacant. Of his past, he retains the utmost secrecy. He simply admits having been in the military in France, and admits having a great sympathy for Napoleon. In addition, the skills he displays, especially in Latin, Greek and mathematics definitely make him an ideal candidate. Moreover, this robust man’s presence will surely be imposing to the students. He is, therefore, hired, and the hopes placed in him are soon met.

Le Collègue Davidson

Demonstrating great knowledge, he, moreover, prevails with total military discipline in his classroom. When they recite their lessons, his students have to stand at attention, and he who does not execute this better watch out. As one of his former students who had the unfortunate idea of remaining with his heels spread apart recalled: “He came towards me and stepped on my foot with such force that I never forgot the lesson.” But for the uncompromising man that he is, Peter Stuart Ney also shows great qualities of justice and honor.

Given that, one day, when led to investigate the theft of several watermelons, he is engaged in the questioning of several suspicious students of the petty theft.

To the questions asked to one of them, the student responded: “I know who did this, but I cannot betray them.” Far from punishing the student who refuses to speak, he welcomes and encourages him on the position he has taken: “You are right. I hope that everyone emulates your silence.”

Admired for his teaching predispositions, Peter is also admired for his other talents. One likes to hear him playing the flute, an instrument that he never forgets to carry with him, and one also appreciates his gift as a draftsman. Moreover, when he left South Carolina for North Carolina, the College of Davidson used his services for the creation of the seal (in 1840). But it is in the military field that his skills are the most noticed. So it was not long before he was entrusted with the training of the militia. “The Rowan Militiamen”. The place where this militia carried out various drills is still visible nowadays: situated between Stateville and Salisbury, it adjoins high road no 10.

Peter Stuart Ney is, furthermore, a skilled rider, knowing horses particularly well. As for the handling of the sword, it has no secrets for him, as a fencing teacher found through a disappointing experience. The latter, who came to teach his art to the students of Ney, suggested to their teacher a friendly battle, in which he was vanquished. Humiliated, but full of admiration for his valiant opponent, the master of weapons declares to the students: “You have a master, you do not need me.” Peter Stuart Ney’s reputation as swordsman was widespread; an officer came to present him his sword, of which he is particularly proud. Upon seeing the weapon with a blade, Peter Ney seizes the moment while telling the officers: “In the past, I had a Damascus steel blade so flexible that we could fold in two.” But as he wants to join action to words and the blade breaks, to the chagrin of its owner.

In the year 1822, Peter Stuart Ney wins North Carolina, where another teaching position is offered to him in the small town of Mocksville. From now on, he is loyal to this state until his final days. Nevertheless, his existence is punctuated by several mysterious trips, whose destinations are unknown. Equally enigmatic are the numerous letters received and immediately concealed by Peter Ney. His behavior is highly intriguing; prompting indiscretion. Also, from time to time, the curious come to question him on his origins, to which he answers with some malice. (“The darkness is my glory”, “I am not registered on the common register of men”), leaving his interlocutors in the same perplexity that they were in previously.

Finally, Peter Stuart Ney lets out his last sigh, in 1846, the year of the Lord, in Rowan Mills, in the home of one of his friends (Osborne Giles Foard) who provided housing for him during his retirement. Despite his revelations of the last hour, his entourage is unclear as to what to think. We proceed to the sorting of his belongings, but there is really no strong evidence that would give credence to these incredible remarks. However, a view of his library, which was particularly well supplied, helps to thicken the mystery. Knowing that the man had been a great scholar and an avid reader, there is nothing unusual in finding so many works. The large number of books relating to the period of the 1 st Empire, also seems perfectly logical. Had he not posed as an admirer of Napoleon? Much more strange, by contrast, are the comments made in the margin of these same works. Thus, in The Life of Napoleon by Sir Walter Scott, a passage taking place at the time of the Russian retreat attracted the attention of Peter Stuart Ney. Walter Scott recalled the request of a Russian officer, called by Marshal Ney, asking him to surrender. Michel Ney having responded that a “Marshal of France never surrenders”; the author added that the Russian officer withdrew himself after having suffered the denial by Ney. Not agreeing with this conclusion, Peter Stuart wrote right in front: “The officer did not bother to withdraw himself, because, during the talks, a volley of shells was fired from the Russian canon and, therefore, the officer was disarmed and held prisoner, because of the violation of short armistice.” How could Peter Stuart Ney have known such a detail? Was he present, at the Marshal’s side, at the time of these facts, was he told about this episode, or was he the main actor? Far more disturbing is the design found in the book of Laurent de l’Ardèche, History of Napoleon. The book in question includes a representation of Marshal Ney; Peter thought fit to add another one by his own will, and still within the margin. As a result of his sketches, he wrote a few words: “Ney by himself” and “he was bald”. And do not forget the Cicero Select Orations where the name of “Neubourg” was found written in different ways. However, it turns out that “Neubourg” is the name on the passport issued by Fouché to Marshal Ney, just after Waterloo, when the latter had announced his intention of going to the United States of America. Strange coincidence, is it not?

But there are many other facts and commonalities that can lead us to believe that Peter Stuart Ney and Michel Ney were one and same person. Here are a few left to the sagacity of the reader:

- Peter and Michel had the same name: Ney. Of course, this does not constitute proof, but one can imagine that the Marshal, once a refugee in America, had not been able to resolve to give up such a prestigious name.

- When Peter Stuart Ney died, in 1846, he was seventy-seven years old. This is exactly the age that would have been the namesake Marshal, born in 1769, had he died on the same date.

- Michel Ney’s father was named Pierre. In English, “Pierre” is “Peter”. If Marshal Ney had changed is first name in exile, is father’s choice was a natural choice.

- The Marshal’s mother had repeatedly referred to a Scottish descent. Was the first name “Stuart” (name of the famous Scottish dynasty) hinting at this genetic heritage?

- Although Peter Stuart Ney’s hair receded over the years, it was a beautiful ginger color, and Peter always combed his hair so that it covered the left side of his head. Marshal Ney, well known for his red-hair, had the habit of combing his hair in a similar style, in order to hide a scar at the same place.

When Osborne Giles Foard’s wife proceeded to groom Peter Stuart Ney for the last time, she noticed a terrible scar on the left arm of the deceased: “The scar between his elbow and shoulder was so deep that the skin seemed to adhere to the bone”. It is at the Battle of Mayence, on December 22, 1794, that Michel Ney received his most serious injury…on the left shoulder!

- Peter Stuart Ney liked to show his students, on a large map, the region in the world where he was born: the Sarre (a former French province attached to Germany between 1814 and 1815). It is precisely here that Marshal Ney was born, more specifically in Sarrelouis.

We know Peter Stuart Ney was a distinguished professor, excelling particularly in languages, even those which are dead. Marshal Ney, meanwhile, spoke several languages, including German and English. The good education that he received during his childhood (his father had placed him at the Augustins), allows us to think that Latin and Greek should not be foreign to him. In fact, the image of “swordsman” that we have of the Marshal, should certainly be complemented by another image, that of an intelligent, studious and applied student, whose first steps in working life led him, at the age of thirteen, to work for a notary (while holding the post of “messenger”), then for the offices of the Parquet (as a clerk). But his last employment, as a pen pusher, in the Mines of Apenweiler Company, led to the resignation of a seething Michel Ney, who left to enlist at Metz, at the age of nineteen, in a Hussar regiment.

One day in 1821, a student of Peter Stuart Ney brought to his professor a newspaper announcing the death of the Emperor at Saint-Helena. Upon reading it, Peter Ney fainted and fell from the podium. Once revived, he was brought up to his room. The doctor, believing he was overworked, advised him to rest for the remainder of the day. Although affected, this force of nature could not stay in bed very long, and we expected, naturally, to see him at his post the next morning. But, when the day came, Peter Ney’s students waited in vain for their schoolmaster. Among those concerned about this adnormal situation, was Colonel Rogers. The latter, no longer being able to endure the agonizing wait into which Peter’s absence had plunged the entire village, headed to the residence of Peter Stuart Ney and hammered on the door, without getting any response. Not being able to bear it any longer, he took it upon himself to force the lock and entered into the dwelling. There, a terrible sight awaited him: Peter Stuart Ney was lying on the ground and swimming in his blood. An appeal was made once again to the doctor who repaired, not without difficulty, this terrible suicide attempt. Returned back to him, Peter Ney had to answer what had prompted him to commit such an act. Still shocked by the news of the day, he had these words to say: “Oh…Napoleon is dead. It is my last hope that is gone…” What hope was it? That of returning, one day, to France? If Peter Stuart Ney was, in fact, Marshal Ney, we can better understand the meaning of these words.

After this tragic event, Peter Stuart Ney found some consolation in the bottle. Thus, one winter’s night, when he had drunk more than was reasonable, one of his neighbors, Colonel Houston, discovered him face against the ground, already covered by a thin layer of snow. With the help of his servant, the Colonel lifted Peter and hoisted him on a horse to bring him home. The operation was carried out without too much attention, but awoke our drunkard who protested in a strange manner: “What, you throw the Duke of Elchingen on a horse like a sack!”

At Mocksville, Madam Austin reported an excerpt of the conversation she and her husband had had with Peter Stuart Ney, during a courtesy visit of the latter. When Mr. Austin, a carpenter by trade, was busy making a coffin, Peter Ney knocked on the door and was immediately invited to enter by the mistress of the house. As he crossed the threshold of the house, the carpenter greeted him with these words: “Mr. Ney, I am just making a coffin for a man who is exactly your size! It would be a good fit for you!” Amused by the quip, Peter Ney replied: “Ah! They once thought of putting me in a coffin, but they were wrong!”

Reaching retirement age, and four years before his death, Peter Stuart Ney met a young woman who had attended his lectures. The memories of his teaching days were, of course, evoked. But Peter Ney opened up to her and delivered his remarks, the meaning of which she did not completely understand: “The old Marshal will soon end his days. The Bourbons have won. I can never go back!”

When Peter Ney spoke about his wife, whom he had to leave in Europe, it was the same description of … the Marshal’s wife!

Finally, after Peter Stuart Ney’s death, the gossip lessened and several elders of the Grande Armée, who had taken refuge in the United States, claimed to have recognized the Prince of Moskowa in the enigmatic professor. So it was of Lehmanowski, former Colonel in the Imperial Army, who was long established in Knightown, Indiana. To the investigators who came to interrogate him, he told them about having once received a visit from Peter Ney. For him, he had no doubt that it was about the famous Marshal.

Herein above, we spoke of investigators, and it is true that Peter Stuart Ney was a mysterious character and was the subject of numerous investigations.

The most spectacular results of these studies were certainly, those given by two handwriting experts. The first, by the name of David Carvalho, residing in New York, at 265 Broadway, to who was submitted the respective handwritings of Peter and Michel. The conclusion of his report, established on April 5, 1895, was unequivocal: “I have now done a thorough examination of the handwritings of Marshal Ney and that of Peter Ney. My present opinion is that Marshal Ney and Peter Ney are one and the same person.”

Thirty-nine years later, another handwriting expert was asked to examine the two handwritings: Henri Thomas, working in the secret service of the Treasury Department (one of those dreaded “T–Men”). Once the study was completed, he reached the same conclusion as that of his predecessor: “After a very thorough and careful analysis of the handwritings of Peter Ney and the Marshal of France Ney, I am fully convinced that these two handwritings were drawn by the same man.”

Among the elements that comforted the two experts in their opinion is the identical manner that Peter and Michel had in writing the letter “i.” They both often put an accent instead of a dot.

As we have seen, the clues that lead us to think that Peter Stuart Ney was, indeed, the Duke of Elchingen are particularly numerous. We also have the revelations of a dying man that had no interest in leaving this world on a lie. Despite this, and lack of irrefutable evidence, Peter Ney’s friends, getting lost in speculation, would not run the risk of taking sides for such or such hypothesis. This cautious attitude is reflected in the epitaph, very ambiguous, contained on the mausoleum of protection of the tomb of Peter Ney, in the cemetery of Third Creek Church:

 

“IN MEMORIAM PETER STUART NEY NATIVE OF FRANCE AND A SOLDIER OF THE FRENCH REVOLUTION UNDER NAPOLEON BONAPARTE WHO DEPARTED THIS LIFE NOVEMBER 15 TH 1846 AGED 77 YEARS”


Tombeau de Peter Ney à Third Creek Church
(une vue d'ensemble, et la plaque funéraire en gros plan.)

With these few words, we recognize the military past of Peter Ney, under the Revolution and the Empire, but we refuse to give him the identity of Marshal. It is true that the “official” gravestone of the latter is visible at Père-Lachaise Cemetery, in Paris, since 1815. But is it really the Prince of Moskowa who is buried in this place? Nothing is less certain, since a gravedigger, by the name of Dumesnil, was taken one day in 1903 to open the coffin of the Marshal to transport the remains to a tomb worthy of the name (until the beginning of the XX th Century, a simple flagstone placed on the ground marked the location of the burial). However, according to the gravedigger, the coffin was simply... empty! Dumesnil maintained this affirmation until the end of his life. The allegation is of significance and comes to accredit the admissions of Peter Stuart Ney. At the same time, it creates many questions, including the execution of the 7 th of December 1815. But before seeking to understand how the Prince of Moskowa was able to escape the firing squad, we must remember the path that led Marshal Ney to this supposed tragic end.

On June 18, 1815 the fateful Battle of Waterloo took place, during which Marshal Ney committed a serious tactical error by unnecessarily wasting the French Cavalry on the English Squares. At the same time, he fights with an energy that attracts admiration. Napoleon found his strength again, but unfortunately it is too late. Ney, himself, senses victory escaping him, and multiplies his acts of bravery with the avowed aim of falling gloriously in the Field of Honor. So he declared to Drouet d’Erlon: “Hold on, my friend, because you and I, if we do not die at the hands of the English, we are left to fall miserably at the hands of the immigrants!” A little later, trying to rally the men of the Brue Brigade, he launches: “Come see how a French Marshal dies!” But, that day, death would not take him.

Le Maréchal Ney

Having been able to return to Paris, he went to the Chamber of Peers, on June 22 nd, where there were momentary thoughts of resisting the invader. At the reading of a letter from the Minister of War, executing measurable force to resume the battle, Marshal Ney protests and expressed his feeling: “This report is false, false on all points: Grouchy cannot have under his orders more than twenty to twenty-five thousand men, at the most. There is no more than one soldier of the guard to rally: I commanded it; I saw it completely massacred before leaving the battlefield (which is not completely correct, NdLA). The enemy is at Nivelle with eighty thousand men; he can be in Paris in six days: you have no way of saving the nation but to open negotiations.” And when Flahaut wanted to rekindle the flame of resistance, Ney protested again: “I repeat, you have no other way of salvation other than negotiations. You have to remind the Bourbons. As for me, I will retire in the United States.” And this was his first intention. Having in his possession a passport delivered by Fouché, the Duke of Elchingen eventually changed his mind, he could not resolve to leave his beloved homeland. But at the return of Louis XVIII, his situation became particularly delicate. The King had requested Fouché to establish a list of traitors who rallied Napoleon during the Hundred Days, the Minister of Police did not miss the opportunity to inscribe the Marshall’s name. As Talleyrand so aptly observed: “There is a justice to render to Duke d’Otrante, which is that he has not forgotten to list any of his friends”. Therefore sought by Police, Marshal Ney agreed to hide and sought refuge at the Bessonies Castle, in the Lot, where he arrived on the 29 th of July. Greeted by the cousin of his wife, the latter recommends he use the utmost caution. Not that he followed this advice! In fact, he was not there for three days before his presence was already noticed, after he inadvertently forgot, on a piece of furniture in the living room, an Egyptian sword, a gift from the Emperor. Having been subject to a denunciation from the prefect of Cantal, he has the unpleasant surprise, when opening the shutter of his bedroom in the early morning of August 3, to see the property completely surrounded by gendarmes. Without getting flustered, he speaks: “Who do you want?” The response that is given to him: “Marshal Ney”, he replies: “What a moment, I will show him to you.” After descending the staircase, Ney appears in person to the captain of detachment. Once he gives his word not to escape, he is free of any link that follows the forces of the constabulary. On the road that leads to Paris, the Marshal received several offers to free him, including that of General Exelmans, who would have no trouble getting rid of a few gendarmes. Fortunately for the latter, the Prince of Moskowa will honor his word by refusing any relief. Arriving in the capital on the 19 th of August, Ney was immediately incarcerated at the Conciergerie.

A council of war, charged with judging him, is constituted not without difficulty. Previously approached to preside this council, Marshal Moncey refuses vigorously: “ .. who, me? I would decide on the fate of Marshal Ney? But, Sire, allow me to ask Your Majesty, where were the accusers while Ney browsed the battlefields?” The consequences to him, in addition to being discharged, is a three month prison term. Finally Ney appears before a council of seven marshals and generals, among them was Jourdan, Augereau, Masséna and Mortier. Knowing them full well, he is afraid of some poor actions on their part and convinces his supporters to challenge the jurisdiction of this Court. After all, he is the Peer of France and, consequently, has the right to request to be tried by the Chamber of Peers, where he hopes to find more magnanimity. It was a cruel mistake because as Lamartine so well pointed out: “the marshals and the generals could remember his exploits: the Peers would only know his crime.” Jumping at the chance offered to them to escape an embarrassing task, members of the council of war, such as Pontius Pilate at the time, withdraw from the case by five votes against two.

On November 20, 1815, Marshal Ney is transferred to Luxembourg Palace, where he will occupy a small room in the attic, as a cell, throughout his trial. It started the next day and ended on the 6 th of December, taking place without surprise. The Chamber of Peers, entirely acceptable to the royalists, recognizes Ney’s guilt and sentences him to the death penalty. On the 7 th, at three o’clock in the morning, the secretary-archivist of the Chamber of Peers announces the sentence to the Marshal, who showed no emotion. Before his execution, scheduled within the next few hours, he is allowed to see his notary, his wife and his children, as well as a priest. At the proposition to appoint the services of a confessor, Ney responds first: “You bore me with your clergy!”, then finally agreed to speak with a priest of Saint-Sulpice. After the departure of the priest, the last person to have been received by the Marshal, Ney appears to be particularly relaxed and asks to be left alone. Having spent the rest of the night to sleep the sleep of the righteous, he was awakened, at 8:30, by the same priest who will accompany him to the place of execution. A first detail calls out to us: instead of wearing his Marshal’s outfit, Ney is dressed in a costume of a middle class person with a hat completing the outfit. While leaving the Luxembourg Palace, he does not fail to salute the troops of the service order, and displays a disconcerting calm over a witness. While about to get into the carriage, he said to the priest: “Get in Father, afterwards I will go first.” The convoy then headed toward the Grenelle barrier, where the execution was scheduled. But instead of going there, the procession stops after a few hundred meters. They make the Marshal get down and he was brought before the wall of an enclosure under construction near the Avenue of the observatory. Facing the firing squad, Ney, whose eyes had not been blindfolded, nor his hands tied, (as was custom), himself gives the order to fire: “Soldiers, right in the heart!” These last words are accompanied by an arm gesture that flapped violently against his chest. The guns replied to the order given, the Marshal collapses on the ground, without a cry, without even a sigh. Quentin Dick, English parliamentary who witnessed the incident, was surprised to not have seen the body lurch. Another surprising circumstance: the Commander of Saint-Bias, responsible for the execution, does not lower himself to go up to the body to give it a coup de grâce. No doctor is there either to ensure the death. Only a few English witnesses, in search of memories, go up to the remains to collect a little blood spilled on the ground, using a handkerchief or simple stones. After a quarter of an hour, the body of the Marshal is finally brought up to the maternity hospice where a nun is responsible for his last toilette. The funeral is scheduled to take place very shortly thereafter, in the strictest secrecy. The Marshal’s wife is invited to attend, but she refuses to go to the Père-Lachaise Cemetery. Why would a woman, who until then had always fulfilled her duties with great fervor, refuse to pay her last respects to her late husband? As we can also marvel at her stubbornness to refuse any remarriage, (the young and attractive widow she had rejected any new suitable party).


Tombeau du Maréchal Ney au cimetière du Père La-Chaise en France

All of these questions, and other misunderstandings, however, found an answer if one accepts that Marshal Ney was spared by the bullets of the firing squad.

It remains to be seen how he could escape this programmed death.

Who said parody of execution, said staging and complicity at the highest level? But at the time, only one organization was powerful enough to implement the rescue of Marshal Ney: the Freemasonry!

Michel Ney, like many officers of his time, was a freemason. Initiated in 1801 in the Saint-Jean-de-Jérusalem lodge in Nancy, he quickly climbed the Masonic ranks to reach that of master. On the enemy side, there were freemasons equally famous with Marshal Blücher, the venerable lodges of “Friedrich zu den drei Balken” of Münster, and Wellington, whose membership to the Irish Lodge of the County of Meath came to our knowledge. In time of war, these brothers were fulfilling their duties without emotion. In such a way that the Battle of Waterloo was regarded as a true battle of masons. But as soon as the canons thunder stopped, the fraternity of Freemasons was immediately on top. So, it is with open arms that Goethe welcomed, at Weimar, the Masons French Generals, just after the battle…of Iena!

Solidarity between brothers is not an empty word, Wellington, at the urging of Marshal Ney’s wife, went to find Louis XVIII to reclaim the grace of the Prince Moskowa. His approach unfortunately ended in failure, Count Artois having dissuaded the King from acceding to this request. If he could not obtain satisfaction, Wellington, nevertheless, had enough power to facilitate an escape. Was he not the master of the allied armies? In his memoirs, however questionable, Ida Saint-Elme, former mistress of Ney, explains how she had participated in the deception of December 7, with the complicity of the three British officers: Bruce, Hutchinson and Sir Robert Wilson. These three men, if they had not obeyed the expressed orders of Sir Arthur Wellesley’s, had at least, acted with his blessing.

Once the plan is developed, everything took place without the slightest hitch. Just before the execution, Marshal Ney obtained a bladder full of blood, coming from some animal, which he hid immediately under his shirt. When shouting “Soldiers, right in the heart!” he burst the pouch by the blow on his chest. The soldiers of the firing squad, all alumni of the Grande Armée, had, meanwhile, rec eived the order to fire to the side. The mock execution carried out, all that remained was to carry the Marshal to the maternity hospice, where Sister Thérèse was waiting her turn to enter into action. This episode was confirmed by R. A. Henderson, Notary at Topeka, in Kansas, whose grandfather was a British visual witness of the execution, accredited the deception: “Ney was not shot…this execution was a farce!”

Having said goodbye to this family, Ney was taken to Bordeaux and embarked to the City of Philadelphia, accompanied by Pascal Luciani and Lefebvre-Desnouettes. After a few weeks of sailing, Ney finally stepped on American soil. As was recalled by old Pietri, a passenger on board the same ship, Marshal Ney’s first concern, who he had, of course, recognized, was to go to a music instrument shop. Pietri, who had followed him up to this place, saw him coming out, a few moments later, with a flute in hand! Does this not remind us of anything? These remarks, compiled by a journalist, were published, in 1874 in the Dayton Journal.


The involvement of the Freemasonry in the escape of the Duke of Elchingen was confirmed by an article written by Colyer Farrington in 1920 and published in The New England Craftsman: “The Freemasons are well aware of the escape of Ney and the members of the Grand Orient of France know this story well…it is the spirit of the masonry, and what the masons can do for their brother masons.”

And do not forget that Michel Ney, as a habit, had to have his signature followed by three specific symbols to the Freemasons, the same as…Peter Stuart Ney!

Finally, a last element in favor of the rapprochement “Peter Ney – Michel Ney” must be recalled here: At Peter Stuart Ney’s death, a certain doctor E. M. C. Neyman presented himself at Third Creek to claim the body of his father. The man seemed as enigmatic as the late professor. And for reason, his story did not have much to envy to that of Peter Ney. The doctor claimed to be the third son of Michel Ney, from the union of the Marshal with Aglaé-Louise Auguié (to be noted that the Prince Moskowa’s third son was named Eugène Michel, and that the initials of these two first names correspond exactly to those of the doctor).

When he was a young man, he had decided to join his father in the United States, but had enrolled in the Faculty of Medicine of Bal timore when he arrived, following the advice of the “marshal-teacher.” Thereafter, he did his utmost to keep his origins a secret, so as to not cause embarrassment to his mother and his brothers, who remained in France. Doctor Neyman finished his days in Saltillo, Indiana, where he died on February 4, 1909, at over one hundred years old. Unlike Peter Ney’s friends, those of Doctor Neyman fully adhered to the version given by the old physician, as evidenced by these words inscribed on the tombstone: “E.M.C. Neyman. Originally from France. Son of Marshal Ney.”

Before so many common points, revealing indications and disturbing facts, how can we not believe in the veracity of the last words of Peter Stuart Ney? Of course, we lack, in this case, irrefutable evidence. To be definitely established, the two tombs would have to be opened, that of the Third Creek Church and that of Père-Lachaise, in order to conduct DNA analysis (assuming there is material to be analyzed in Marshal Ney’s tomb, at the Père-Lachaise, as the latter, as we have seen, is likely to be… empty!). But can we decently ask for such an operation? Do the dead not deserve to sleep in peace? And then, do we not have enough evidence to accredit the thesis that Peter Ney and Michel Ney, were, indeed, one and the same man? And do not come to tell us that the words of the witnesses do not have any worth, because, everyday, people are convicted on the basis of mere tes timonials. To question the validity of this method of proof would be to call into question our entire judicial system. Which, of course, no one would dare to think! To return to what constitutes, now, the “Ney” case, in the absurd assumption that we would ignore all tes timonial evidence, the fact remains that the case of Peter Ney leads us to reflect on what we believe to take for granted, as well as the fragility of a science that may be a bit too “human” (with all that it entails). Faced with a field such as history, a single attitude seems to be desirable: search and search continuously, with one goal: the quest for the truth.

 

Pascal Cazottes, FINS

Translated by Jinny Addesa

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(*): or Brownsville, according to other sources.