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History Club, Catawba College partner to bring lecture on Napoleonic era Tuesday

SALISBURY — The History Club at the Rowan Museum will partner with the Catawba College Community Forum to present a public lecture on the Napoleonic era at 7 p.m. Tuesday at the museum, 202 N. Main St.

Aaron Kepley, executive director of Rowan Museum Inc., said the first speaker of the History Club’s fall programs will be Professor Frederick C. Schneid.

Schneid’s presentation is titled,“’They Have Seen Nothing Yet…’ Young General Bonaparte and the Conquest of Italy.”

Schneid is the Herman and Louise Smith professor of history and chairman of the department of history at High Point University. He specializes in European military history.

Schneid is the author and editor of 11 books and has published more than 25 chapters and articles on military history. Schneid’s research focuses on the wars of the 18th and 19th centuries.

At High Point University, he teaches courses on the wars of the French Revolution and Napoleon, the Second World War, and general European history. He is currently writing a book on the Wars of Italian Unification.

His presentation will examine Napoleon’s lightning campaign to conquer Italy in 1796-1797.

“Despite the historical assessment of his youthful military exploits, Napoleon’s stunning victories were not due solely to his genius,” Scheid contends. “Being his first campaign, and merely 27 years old, he made mistakes and suffered from hubris. Yet his opponents made more mistakes and lacked Bonaparte’s martial skill, even though the generals he faced had decades more experience on the battlefield.”

“We are very excited to have Fred bring such an insightful perspective on one of the great personages of modern history,” said Gary Freeze of Catawba College, director of the Community Forum. “It is both a global and a local topic for many folks who love to study the heritage of Rowan and adjacent counties.”

The program furthers the celebration of the sestercentennial (250th anniversary, in 1769) of the birth of Field Marshal Michel Ney, one of the great Napoleonic generals.

According to local legend, the itinerant school teacher who called himself Peter Stewart Ney may have been the field marshal in exile in the backcountry of North Carolina.

P.S. Ney is buried near Cleveland at Third Creek Presbyterian Church. “In this pivotal year, we are investigating further what we know about both Neys, and that will be part of a subsequent program,” Freeze said.

“Fred is here to give us context, but he has said that he will be happy to answer a few questions about the field marshal. The main thrust of his work is to see how such a genius as Napoleon is part of a historically measurable process. This should help us in learning more about one of his significant subordinates.”

The programs involving Ney are the focus of the Community Forum for the fall semester. Since renovation continues in Ketner Hall and other venues on the Catawba campus, Freeze is continuing to partner with other local groups to bring a variety of authors, artists and activists to the city.

“The logistics last year convinced us to depart from tradition and do extramural events,” Freeze said. “We hope, however, to have a full schedule of programs in the spring semester, when we will be back in our home stage in Tom Smith Auditorium.”

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