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The Mystery of Peter Stuart Ney

A guide to materials in Archives and Special Collections related to Peter Stuart Ney, the designer of the college seal, and the mystery of his identity.

Books about the Mystery

Cover page of Marshal Ney: A Dual Life

Marshal Ney: a dual life

By LeGette Blythe

Online version of book available through HathiTrust.

Cover Page of Smoot book about Marshal Ney

Marshal Ney before and after execution; with numerous illustrations

By J. Edward Smoot and James A. Weston

Online version of book available through HathiTrust.

Cover book of Weston book about Marshal Ney

Historic doubts as to the execution of Marshal Ney ...

By James A. Weston

Online version of book available through HathiTrust.


Communities and scholars alike have been fascinated as to whether or not Peter Stuart Ney was truly Napoleon Bonaparte’s Marshal Michel Ney. Many books have been written about this legend and in Archives and Special Collections and E.H. Little Library, we are fortunate to have copies of some of these published books and the research materials from some of these authors. 

For an introduction to the mystery of Peter Stuart Ney - Marshal Ney, please view the video below from WRAL's Tar Heel Traveler series.

Manuscript Collections

Manuscript materials are largely unpublished documents such as diaries, letters, speeches and sermons. The collections may be about an individual, a family, or a group. The majority of our collections relate to students and alumni of Davidson College and to civic organizations in the town of Davidson, North Carolina.

Listed below are relevant collections related to Peter Stuart Ney, specifically research related to whether or not he was Marshal Michel Ney. Collections are organized by manuscript number, along with a brief description of the collection's contents, and are hyperlinked to the collection's digital finding aid.

James Edward Smoot Collection (DC041)

Description: Dr. J. Edward Smoot was a physician in Concord, NC. He was interested in the debate of whether Peter Stuart Ney was also Napoleon's Marshal Michel Ney of France. He published one book on this subject, Marshal Ney: Before and After Execution. The collection contains both incoming and outgoing correspondence, original manuscripts and documentation for his book and the supplemental edition, and research material and notes.

Dorothy McKay Quynn Collection (DC042)

Description: Dorothy McKay Quynn was a college professor and academic who was interested in the Ney controversy. The collection contains correspondence, manuscripts, research material, printed material, and photographs relevant to her research about Peter Stuart Ney. The correspondence includes letters about her research and publication thereof. There are also two manuscripts, "The Two Graves of Marshal Ney" and "Ney's Attempt to Escape."

Coline Munroe Thies Papers (DC075)

Description: Coline Munroe Thies was the wife of Davidson College professor Oscar Julius Thies, Jr. She was a member of the Twentienth Century Club, a local women's book club. The collection consists of the handwritten copies of the papers Mrs. Thies gave as programs for the Twentieth Century Book Club. Included in this collection is a paper about the Peter Stuart Ney - Marshal Ney mystery.

Bradshaw-Ney Collection (DC095)

Description: H. H. (Pete) Bradshaw is the author of Execution Denied: The Story of Marshal Ney: Napoleon's Bravest of the Brave, which was published in 2004. This collection consists of research materials used by Bradshaw in the writing of his book and also some materials he created, including books, promotional materials and artifacts. 

Additional Primary Sources

Listed below are relevant collections regarding Peter Stuart Ney that can be found at UNC-Chapel Hill. Materials are linked and described below.

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