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Imposter: The Strange Case of the Life and Afterlife of Michel Ney, Field Marshal of France, and Peter Stuart Ney, Schoolmaster of the Carolinas
24.07.2021 Philip Gerard
Michel Ney Michel Ney

Whoever he is, he lies in a graveyard behind an unimposing brick church, the Third Creek Presbyterian in rural Cleveland, North Carolina, an hour or so northeast of Charlotte. It’s a country of woods and farms, narrow blacktop roads that wind across creek valleys and then open into flat straightaways, like the two-lane road that runs along the border of the graveyard.

The wafer-thin headstone under which he is buried is capped by a sharp triangular crown, not the scalloped curve of the others nearby. This is significant, some claim—an architectural clue that marks the grave as different from those around it, a coded sign that the man who lies beneath it is much more than he seems. A small tattered French tri-color flag is planted in the ground near the grave. And to protect the grave from vandals, a brick and glass enclosure has been built over it. These days it is weather-worn, a bit shabby, as if no one has been here to tend it for a long while.
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