The History of the U.S. Civil War Visualized Month by Month and State by State, in an Infographic from 1897

There’s been a lot of hand­wring­ing over the i‑Generation’s lack of map read­ing skills.

While we’re at it, let’s take a cold, hard look at the Gild­ed Age info­graph­ic, above.…

… and con­clude that peo­ple who live in glass hous­es should stop reach­ing for stones.

Pub­lished in 1897 by the Com­par­a­tive Syn­op­ti­cal Chart Com­pa­ny, this now unfath­omable doc­u­ment–His­to­ry of the Civ­il War in the Unit­ed States: 1860–1865–achieved its goal of squeez­ing the max­i­mum amount of con­tent onto a sin­gle sheet.

This is in direct oppo­si­tion to today’s gen­er­al­ly accept­ed rules for cre­at­ing suc­cess­ful info­graph­ics, one of which is to sim­pli­fy.

Anoth­er holds that text should be used spar­ing­ly, lest it clut­ter up strong visu­als. Con­sumers have a lim­it­ed atten­tion span, and for con­tent to be con­sid­ered share­able, they should be able to take it in at a glance.

Mod­ern eyes may be for­giv­en for mis­tak­ing this chart for the world’s most con­vo­lut­ed sub­way map. But those aren’t stops, friend. They’re minor engage­ments. Blood­i­er and bet­ter-known bat­tles are delin­eat­ed with larg­er circles—yellow cen­ters for a Union vic­to­ry, pale green for Con­fed­er­ate.

The fastest way to begin mak­ing heads or tails of the chart is to note that each col­umn is assigned to a dif­fer­ent state.

The ver­ti­cal axis is divid­ed into months. Notice all the neg­a­tive space around Fort Sumter.

And the con­stant entries in Vir­gini­a’s col­umn.

The pub­lish­er not­ed that the loca­tion of events was “entire­ly gov­erned” by this time scale.

You’ll have to look hard for Lincoln’s assas­si­na­tion.

Con­sumers who pur­chased the His­to­ry of the Civ­il War in the Unit­ed States 1860–1865 pre­sum­ably pored over it by can­dle­light, sup­ple­ment­ing it with maps and books.

It would still make a superb addi­tion to any his­to­ry teacher’s class­room, both as dec­o­ra­tion and the tin­der that could ignite dis­cus­sion as to how we receive infor­ma­tion, and how much infor­ma­tion is in fact received.

Explore a larg­er, zoomable ver­sion of the map here.

via Slate

Relat­ed Con­tent:

A Free Course from Yale on the U.S. Civ­il War

Watch Vet­er­ans of The US Civ­il War Demon­strate the Dread­ed Rebel Yell (1930)

Visu­al­iz­ing Slav­ery: The Map Abra­ham Lin­coln Spent Hours Study­ing Dur­ing the Civ­il War

Ayun Hal­l­i­day is an author, illus­tra­tor, the­ater mak­er and Chief Pri­ma­tol­o­gist of the East Vil­lage Inky zine. Fol­low her @AyunHalliday.

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