Minard was a pioneer of the use of graphics in engineering and statistics. He is famous for his Carte figurative des pertes successives en hommes de l’Armée Française dans la campagne de Russie 1812-1813, a flow map published in 1869 on the subject of Napoleon’s disastrous Russian campaign of 1812.
The graph displays several variables in a single two-dimensional image:
the size of the army - providing a strong visual representation of human suffering, e.g. the sudden decrease of the army’s size at the crossing of the Berezina river on the retreat;
the geographical co-ordinates, latitude and longitude, of the army as it moved;
the direction that the army was traveling, both in advance and in retreat, showing where units split off and rejoined;
the location of the army with respect to certain dates; and
the weather temperature along the path of the retreat, in another strong visualisation of events (during the retreat “one of the worst winters in recent memory set in”).