27 September 2006 | theowinthrop
Did he die in 1815 in France, or did he die years later in the United States?
Again, I have not seen this particular short film, but the story can be commented on.
Among the chief military generals of Napoleon Bonaparte was Marchel Michel Ney, who was a hard fighting general deeply loved by his men. Ney was known, due to his stunning courage (especially shown in the disastrous Russian Campaign) as "The Bravest of the Brave."
In 1814, Ney made a fatal error - instead of retiring without any comment, he swore an oath of loyalty to the newly restored King Louix XVIII (brother of the ill-fated King Louix XVI and uncle of the missing King Louis XVII). Ney got a major military post as a result. Then in March 1815 Napoleon fled his first exile on the isle of Elba, and returned to a triumphant reception by the citizens of France. Ney came out with his troops, but instead of arresting or killing Napoleon joined him. It was this act that doomed the Marshal.
He led French forces at the battle of Quatre-Bras, and was at Napoleon's side at Waterloo. In fact, his final, furious charge at Waterloo almost carried the day, but failed to. With Napoleon's collapse and final exile to St. Helena, Ney became the biggest target of Bourbon anger in France. Goaded by his niece, the Duchesse of Angouleme (sister of the missing Louis XVII), Louis XVIII had Ney arrested, tried for treason, found guilty, and executed by firing squad. This, by the way, is the subject of the plot of the George Arliss movie about the Duke of Wellington (THE IRON DUKE).
This short describes the great reputation for courage and leadership Ney inspired. But then it goes into those areas of questionable "urban legend" that this series loved to follow. In the 1820s and 1830s there was a schoolteacher in North Carolina named Peter Ney, who appeared to be of French ancestry - possibly one of the soldiers who fought in Napoleon's Grande Armee. Many of these men and their families came to the United States rather than stay in Bourbon France (see the John Wayne - Oliver Hardy film THE FIGHTING KENTUCKIAN to see an example of this). Peter Ney would talk about military affairs, but he seemed to show some knowledge of high command, and knew personal details of the Emperor and leading figures of his court. The issue of the conclusion of the short was, was Peter Ney a regular soldier of France, or was he actually the ill-fated Marshall Michel Ney, somehow miraculously spirited out of France after his supposed death. And so the short ends asking what was the truth about the Marshall's death and the real background of the North Carolina schoolteacher.