On November 20, 1869 French civil engineer Charles Joseph Minard published in Paris Carte figurative des pertes successives en hommes de l'Armée Française dans la campagne de Russie 1812-1813. This was a a flow map on Napoleon's disastrous Russian campaign of 1812 in which he marched his army of 500,000 men from the Neman River to Moscow.
"The graph displays several variables in a single two-dimensional image:
"• the army's location and direction, showing where units split off and rejoined
"• the declining size of the army (note e.g. the crossing of the Berezina river on the retreat)
"• the low temperatures during the retreat.
"Étienne-Jules Marey first called notice to this dramatic depiction of the terrible fate of Napoleon's army in the Russian campaign, saying it "defies the pen of the historian in its brutal eloquence". Edward Tufte says it 'may well be the best statistical graphic ever drawn' and uses it as a prime example in The Visual Display of Quantitative Information" (Wikipedia article on Charles Joseph Minard, accessed 01-16-2011).
The chart is a lithograph 62 x 30 cm.
♦ An essay on Minard's historical sources for the chart, and a different reproduction pf the chart, was available at http://www.edwardtufte.com/tufte/minard in January 2011.
♦ The bibliographer of Minard's statistical graphics, Michael Friendly, posted several very interesting graphic variations on Minard's chart as Re-Visions of Minard. "I use 're-vision' in the sense of both 'to revise' and 'to see again', possibly from a new perspective." This was also available in January 2011.