Armies and Graphics

by Fred Ray on July 21, 2008 · 0 comments

Here’s an interesting graphic showing the rise and fall of the Confederate armies during the Civil War in three theaters.

Confederate armies graphic

According to its creator, it “charts the size and battle history of the Army of Northern Virginia, Army of Tennessee, and 21 other armies. It provides understanding and context of why the Army of Northern Virginia was more successful than the Army of Tennessee. See the relationship between the various armies … which army sent reinforcements to other theaters and which armies split their forces. See how the Army of Northern Virginia expanded and contracted during the war. See how the Army of Tennessee was formed from a number of smaller armies.” There is one for the Union army as well, and both certainly give a different perspective on these institutions.

This sort of graphic representation is based on the justly famous chart of French civil engineer Charles Joseph Minard, who in 1869 published a graphic representation of Napoleon’s disastrous Russian campaign. As the blog Strange Maps notes:

As a statistical chart, the map unites six different sets of data.
Geography: rivers, cities and battles are named and placed according to their occurrence on a regular map.
• The army’s course: the path’s flow follows the way in and out that Napoleon followed.
• The army’s direction: indicated by the colour of the path, gold leading into Russia, black leading out of it.
• The number of soldiers remaining: the path gets successively narrower, a plain reminder of the campaigns human toll, as each millimetre represents 10.000 men.
Temperature: the freezing cold of the Russian winter on the return trip is indicated at the bottom, in the republican measurement of degrees of réaumur (water freezes at 0° réaumur, boils at 80° réaumur).
Time: in relation to the temperature indicated at the bottom, from right to left, starting 24 October (pluie, i.e. ‘rain’) to 7 December (-27°).

Just a reminder that there are always different ways to see things. Follow either of the above links for an expanded version.

Minard graphic


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