US

Man says elusive Civil War photo sought by experts really is 30-year-old hoax he did as teen

  • This undated photo provided by John Potter of Lenoir, N.C., shows a framed image that historians have long thought might be the only existing photograph of the Confederate ironclad CSS Georgia, which sank 150 years ago near Savannah, Georgia. Potter initially said he discovered and photographed the original image at a yard sale in the 1980s when he couldn’t afford to buy it. Now he says the created the image as a hoax three decades ago as a teenager, using a model and his brother posing as a soldier. (AP Photo/John Potter)

    This undated photo provided by John Potter of Lenoir, N.C., shows a framed image that historians have long thought might be the only existing photograph of the Confederate ironclad CSS Georgia, which sank 150 years ago near Savannah, Georgia. Potter initially said he discovered and photographed the original image at a yard sale in the 1980s when he couldn’t afford to buy it. Now he says the created the image as a hoax three decades ago as a teenager, using a model and his brother posing as a soldier. (AP Photo/John Potter)  (The Associated Press)

  • This undated photo provided by John Potter of Lenoir, N.C., shows what Potter says is a hoax photo of a Civil War soldier and ship alongside a 2-foot model ship used to make the image and a copy of Mad magazine from 1984. Potter donated a photograph of the framed image to a Georgia historical group in 1986 and historians have since wondered if it might be the only existing photo of the ironclad CSS Georgia, which sank near Savannah, Georgia, in December 1864. Potter initially said he found the original image at a garage sale, but only took photographs of it because couldn’t afford to buy it. (AP Photo/John Potter)

    This undated photo provided by John Potter of Lenoir, N.C., shows what Potter says is a hoax photo of a Civil War soldier and ship alongside a 2-foot model ship used to make the image and a copy of Mad magazine from 1984. Potter donated a photograph of the framed image to a Georgia historical group in 1986 and historians have since wondered if it might be the only existing photo of the ironclad CSS Georgia, which sank near Savannah, Georgia, in December 1864. Potter initially said he found the original image at a garage sale, but only took photographs of it because couldn’t afford to buy it. (AP Photo/John Potter)  (The Associated Press)

  • This image taken from video on March 31, 2015, shows John Potter during an interview with The Associated Press at his home in Lenoir, N.C. Thirty years ago, Potter claimed he took a photo of a photo he found at a yard sale of the Civil War ship CSS Georgia. Potter now admits the photo was a fake.  (AP Photo/Alex Sanz)

    This image taken from video on March 31, 2015, shows John Potter during an interview with The Associated Press at his home in Lenoir, N.C. Thirty years ago, Potter claimed he took a photo of a photo he found at a yard sale of the Civil War ship CSS Georgia. Potter now admits the photo was a fake. (AP Photo/Alex Sanz)  (The Associated Press)

A photograph that for three decades posed a Civil War mystery appears to be a long-surviving hoax.

The photograph of what appeared to be a far older photo — showing a figure in a coat and hat and the blurred image of a warship — surfaced in 1986. Some historians believed it might be a photo of the CSS Georgia, a Confederate ironclad that sank 150 years ago in Georgia as Union troops captured Savannah.

The man who photographed the picture, John Potter, initially said he found it at a yard sale but couldn't afford to buy it. Now Potter tells The Associated Press the photo is a fake he made as a teenager using a 2-foot model of the ship and his brother in costume standing in a marsh.