Home » History » The Black Terror is a Union Warship During the American Civil War. It was also Completely Fake and Cost $8.63 to Construct.
Black Terror

The Black Terror is a Union Warship During the American Civil War. It was also Completely Fake and Cost $8.63 to Construct.

A ship is a large watercraft that travels through the world’s oceans and other sufficiently deep waterways, carrying cargo or passengers or supporting specialized missions such as defense, research, and fishing. Ships and boats are generally distinguished by size, shape, load capacity, and purpose. Did you know that a fake warship was used during the American Civil War?

The Black Terror, a Union Ironclad responsible for an enemy ship’s destruction. The Black Terror was also an utterly fake warship that cost $8.63 to build.

Black Terror Revealing the Enemies Location

The Black Terror was a fake warship used during the American Civil War to dupe Confederate forces into destroying the partially-salvaged remains of the ironclad USS Indianola.

Union Navy officer David Dixon Porter was the one who was responsible for building a fake ironclad. A flatboat or barge was enlarged with logs and outfitted with fictitious cannons, lifeboats, and smokestacks. The fake vessel, named Black Terror, cost less than $9 at the time. The fake ship was released downstream at 23:00 on February 25 and convinced the Confederates that it posed a real threat.

The Confederate salvage crew of Indianola, believing they were confronted with an actual warship, blew up the ship’s remains, though some cannons were later recovered. Myron J. Smith, a naval historian, has since suggested that Black Terror was a later hoax to reveal Confederate artillery batteries’ location. The story has been conflated with an earlier ruse to force Indianola’s destruction. (Source: History)

How Did the American Civil War Start?

After decades of simmering tensions between northern and southern states over slavery, states’ rights, and westward expansion, the United States Civil War began in 1861. Following Abraham Lincoln’s election in 1860, seven southern states seceded to form the Confederate States of America; four more states soon joined them. The Civil War, also known as the War Between the States, ended in 1865 with the Confederate surrender. The War was the most expensive and deadly fought on American soil, with 620,000 of the 2.4 million soldiers killed, millions more injured, and much of the South destroyed. (Source: History)

What Were the Primary Causes of the American Civil War?

While the North and South had many political and cultural differences that contributed to the American Civil War, slavery was the primary cause of the conflict. The following discusses the role of slavery in the lead-up to the War and some of the differences between the two sides that resulted in such a wide gap. (Source: Ducksters)


Slavery was at the heart of the North and South divide. To work the fields, the South relied on slave labor. Many people in the North considered slavery to be wrong and evil. These individuals were known as abolitionists. They desired that slavery be made illegal throughout the United States. Abolitionists like Frederick Douglass, John Brown, Harriet Tubman, and Harriet Beecher Stowe began to persuade more and more people that slavery was evil. This made wealthy landowners in the South fear losing their way of life. (Source: Ducksters)

States’ Rights

The concept of states’ rights was not novel during the Civil War. Since the creation of the Constitution, there has been debate over how much power the states should have versus how much power the federal government should have. The southern states perceived the federal government as usurping their rights and powers. (Source: Ducksters)

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