Infographics feel like a relatively new form—a creation of the internet era, where ample screen space and automated apps mean it’s easy to transform information into occasionally illuminating muddles of pie charts. But infographics, beautiful ones, predate the web. American engraver John Warner Barber carved the one above in 1871. It’s a beautiful image tracing the major events of the American Revolutionary War.
The war is broken down by year, on the horizontal axis, and state, on the vertical one. But Barber included more subtle touches tracing the course of the war, too. Starting in Virginia in 1775, where George Washington was commissioned to lead the Continental Army, a thin dotted line follows the path of Washington and his troops. “Washington was selected over other candidates such as John Hancock based on his previous military experience and the hope that a leader from Virginia could help unite the colonies,” says the Library of Congress. In the boxes representing the war’s later years, Barber added more dotted lines, tracing General Benjamin Lincoln as he wound his way south, taking command of the Southern army, and General Nathaniel Greene, who did the same.
The copy of the chart seen above belongs to Todd Andrlik, the head of the Journal of the American Revolution.
Here’s the thin dotted line that follows Washington’s path:
The chart gives a sense of the scale of the war, and of how many things were going on in so many places, even away from the main paths forged by the Continental Army’s leading generals:
Later in the war, Washington meets Jean-Baptiste Donatien de Vimeur, the comte de Rochambeau, the leader of a French military wing that helped the American forces in their war against the British.
If you haven’t already, you’ll really want to click through to see the image in full, or see this high quality scan from the Library of Congress.
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