Ney-sayers keep their theory alive

What was it about Peter Stewart Ney, believed by some to be a fugitive Napoleonic marshal passing as a Rowan County schoolmaster, that inspired such fascination? Has any other North Carolinian ever been the subject of so many biographies, however questionable? They just keep coming, from “Historic Doubts as to the Execution of Marshal Ney” (1895) to “Marshal Ney Before and After Execution” (1929) to “Marshal Ney: A Double Life” (1937) to “Napoleon’s Traitor: The Masons and Marshal Ney’s Mysterious Escape” (1989) to “Execution Denied: The Story of Marshal Ney, Napoleon’s ‘Bravest of the Brave’ ” (2004).

The Dictionary of North Carolina Biography avoids using the word “hoax” but concludes bluntly “He was not… the marshal.”