Since time immemorial, people have used maps to navigate their way in this world. Many of the maps like the illustrated maps have been created beautifully into an exquisite piece of art. The content although artistic provides an insight into the area’s culture and society. Maps can also serve as records so that the youth today will have an idea of the historical landmarks in the past.
Maps are often considered as devices that are supposed to help explorers and travellers. However, the experience of General William Sherman suggests otherwise. During the American Civil War, General Sherman was ordered to strike at the heart of the Confederacy. The general asked for a map of Georgia and Alabama but the map he received resembled a coloured patchwork quilt.
Surprisingly, the map was rich in data. Officials have added data from the 1860 census that included the population of whites, slaves and men of military age, number of livestock and acres of crops. When General Sherman and his men charged towards Atlanta, they knew where to supply the Union army, where resistance could thin and which fields of cotton and sugar to burn. The map prevented the mission from being subjected to blind chance and a complete failure.
According to Susan Schulten, a historian at the University of Denver who was able to unearth General Sherman’s collection of data, maps are not only illustrations of the lie of a land but a lavish and fascinating atlas. It can also be used as an instrument to persuade and sometimes to conquer.
An example is the 16-century European explorers who were looking for a route west from America to China they invented invisible waters that span the continent to convince monarchs to pay for the explorations.
An example of a stunning map with highly impressive illustrations is the Texas Illustrated Map that shows most of the state’s tourist attractions. The illustrated map is not intended for explorations but more likely for marketing purposes. It is featured on a travel magazine to attract the attention of travellers. When the visitors reach Texas, there will be immediate recognition and recall of the landmarks they saw on the illustrated map.