On the opposite wall hangs a naval painting of the battle between the Monitor and the Merrimac, that man-el of history which took place in Hampton Roads, March 9, 1862. The artist, W. F. Halsall, who received $7,500 for the work, is said to have interviewed in person or by letter some five hundred eye-witnesses of the fight; and, consequently, this is probably the most perfect representation of the famous meeting of the ironclads in existence. The Virginia, as she was rated in the Confederate navy, it will be remembered, was the old United States sloop-of-war Merrimac, which had been sunk at the Norfolk Navy Yard during the early part of the war. She had been raised by the Confederates, and plated with railroad rails. These were placed in a slanting position according to the designs of Lieutenant John M. Brooke of the Confederate navy, so that a ball or solid shot striking above the water line would be deflected. Her superiority over the ordinary United States sloops-of-war and frigates was demonstrated on her first day's engagement. Inferior as she proved to be to the Northern invention, the Merrimac alone could then have mastered any fleet afloat, foreign or American.

" Having sunk the Cumberland,'1" writes S. S. Cox, " the Virginia turns upon the Congress, which is already hotly engaged with the gun-boats attendant on the ironclad. The commanding officer of the Congress has witnessed the fate of the Cumberland. He heads for shoal water and grounds ! The Virginia now selects a raking position astern of the Congress, while one of the smaller steamers pours in a constant fire on her starboard quarter. Two other steamers of the enemy approach from the James River, also firing upon the unfortunate frigate with precision and severe effect. The guns of the Congress are almost entirely disabled, and her gallant commanding officer, young Lieutenant Joseph B. Smith, has fallen at his post. Her decks are strewn with the dead and the dying, the ship is on fire in several places, and not a gun can be brought to bear upon the assailants. In this state of things and with no effectual relief at hand, the senior surviving officer, Lieutenant Pendergrast, feels it his duty to save further useless destruction of life by hauling down his colors. This is done about four o'clock, p.m. The Congress continues to burn until about eight in the evening, then she blows up. When word comes to the Navy Department that the Congress hauled down her colors, the brave old Commodore Smith immediately says in deep emotion : ' Then Joe is dead.' His boy went down with the ship".

The Monitor or "Yankee cheese-box on a raft," as it was contemptuously called by the Confederates, was designed by John Ericsson, though Timby, an American boy of nineteen, had twenty years before invented the revolving turret. She had arrived from New York during the night following the battle, and when, on Sunday morning, the Merrimac renewed the attack on the steam frigate Minnesota, appeared from behind that vessel, and from her turret began a furious cannonade. The late Rear-Admiral John Lorimer Worden, who was commanding in the pilot-house, was stunned and partially blinded during the engagement. The picture represents the Merrbnac in the act of attempting to run down the smaller vessel. Disabled from the cannonade and the futile attempt to ram the Monitor, Lieutenant-Commander Jones is compelled to retreat to the shelter of the batteries at Sewell's Point. In the following May, the Merrimac was blown up by the Confederates to prevent her falling into the hands of the Yankees; in December, the Monitor was lost off Cape Hatteras.

This historical picture is undoubtedly worthy of the place it holds on the walls of the Capitol, and of the attention it receives from the visiting public. It is noticeable as the only painting in the Capitol of a scene in the late Rebellion; and even it to-day awakens rather a spirit of national pride that the naval warfare'of the world was revolutionized by the American inventive genius, here displayed, than any narrow feeling of sectionalism.