How Do We Know the Truth?
The Senate's painting is actually a copy of Powell's 1865 work Perry's Victory, commissioned for the Ohio State House. An 1867 description of the Ohio painting states:
"The men are genuine nautical types, models from the Brooklyn Navy-yard."
A 1910 guidebook on the Ohio Statehouse discusses the U.S. Capitol's painting:
"Captain Howard F. Kennedy. . .was employed in the [U.S.] Capitol when Powell painted the painting. . . . He [Powell] took as his models men engaged in work at the Capitol. The face of the sailor with his head bound and blood streaming from it is that of Captain John Decker, for many years 'boss rigger' of the Capitol. . . . "