Week Six Practicum Blog: A Tangled Web of Networks

The two networking tools I used for this practicum — Palladio and RAW — were each unique in different ways. And, despite using the same Civil War data set for each one (battle and unit), I managed to glean different things from the same data by viewing it through the two different tools.

Palladio proved extremely easy to use. The drag-and-drop feature allowed me to load an Excel spreadsheet with the Battle and Unit data very quickly. The download box populated rapidly,  and I was able to produce a graph very quickly with a simple “click.” I’m not sure that the floating nature of the graph was of much help to me, though. Granted, I could expand and contract its various nodes and edges quickly, but the graph was most useful to me in its static form.

Interestingly, the Palladio graph allowed me to see very quickly that the various units represented in the data, such as the 1st Michigan Cavalry and the 136th New York Infantry, generally fought the war in the same region. The 1st Michigan Cavalry stayed principally in  northern Virginia as indicated by its visual linkage to battles such as Old Church, Winchester, Centreville, and Brentsville. By contrast, the 136th New York Infantry spent most of its time in the South, fighting at Atlanta, Chattanooga, and Stone Mountain. Yet the graph indicated that at some point, both units participated together in the battle of Gettysburg, suggesting that the “regionalization” of various Union regiments did not mean that the Army’s senior leaders could not call upon them to move and fight elsewhere. But the most significant thing I took away from the network visualization of these units and the battles in which they participated was that, for the most part, many of them fought in one general region within the United States and seldom moved from that area. Perhaps one explanation was the difficulty inherent in moving a foot-borne Army from one place to another quickly. Locomotives offered limited support, and damaged rail networks throughout the South likely complicated train traffic.

My only difficulty with Palladio was not with the program but with my ability to figure out how to import a screenshot of my graph into the body of my blog. I’m still figuring out how to do it. But, in the meantime, a pdf version of that screenshot appears at the following hyperlink: Palladio

Like Palladio, RAW was easy to use. The drag-and-drop upload feature resembled that of Palladio. The data uploaded quickly, and I was able to generate networking diagrams almost instantly using the Battle and Unit data set. I began with an Alluvial Diagram, which was very difficult to use, even after I adjusted the height and width repeatedly. The data lines were not easy to follow, but the tightly packed lines suggested, contrary to my Palladio graph,  that many units fought in some of the same battles. For example, the varying thicknesses of the bars to the left of each battle name seemed to suggest a hierarchy of common battle participation among units.  If I read it correctly, then this information was more useful than the Palladio graph, which did not really capture those commonalities in a clear, comprehensive manner. In addition, I was not sure what the various colors assigned to each unit were telling aside from possibly serving as a visual guide to lead me to certain  units in the network graph much more efficiently. Here is the Alluvial Diagram I generated.

Aldie
2
Aldie
Atlanta
1
Atlanta
Averasboro
1
Averasboro
Aylett’s
1
Aylett’s
Bealton Station
1
Bealton Station
Beaver Dam
1
Beaver Dam
Bentonville
1
Bentonville
Berryville
1
Berryville
Bethesda Church
1
Bethesda Church
Beverly Ford
1
Beverly Ford
Brandy Station
1
Brandy Station
Brentsville
2
Brentsville
Bull Run
4
Bull Run
Cassville
1
Cassville
Cedar Creek
1
Cedar Creek
Centreville
1
Centreville
Chancellorsville
3
Chancellorsville
Charles City Courthouse
1
Charles City Courthouse
Charlestown
1
Charlestown
Chattanooga
1
Chattanooga
Cold Harbor
2
Cold Harbor
Cross Keys
2
Cross Keys
Culpepper Court House
2
Culpepper Court House
Dallas
1
Dallas
Deep Bottom
1
Deep Bottom
Dinwiddle
1
Dinwiddle
Fairfax Courthouse
1
Fairfax Courthouse
Falling Waters
1
Falling Waters
Fisher’s Hill
1
Fisher’s Hill
Five Forks
1
Five Forks
Fort Scott
1
Fort Scott
Fredericksburg
1
Fredericksburg
Front Royal
2
Front Royal
Gaines Mill
1
Gaines Mill
Gettysburg
4
Gettysburg
Grove Church
1
Grove Church
Groveton
1
Groveton
Hagerstown
1
Hagerstown
Halltown
1
Halltown
Hanover Court House
1
Hanover Court House
Harrisonburg
1
Harrisonburg
Hartwood Church
1
Hartwood Church
Hawes’s Shop
1
Hawes’s Shop
Hope Landing
1
Hope Landing
Jefferson
1
Jefferson
Jones Cross Roads
1
Jones Cross Roads
Jones’ Bridge
1
Jones’ Bridge
Kelly’s Ford
1
Kelly’s Ford
Kenesaw Mountain
1
Kenesaw Mountain
Laurel Hill
1
Laurel Hill
Leetown
1
Leetown
Liberty Mills
1
Liberty Mills
Luray
1
Luray
Malvern Hill
1
Malvern Hill
Middleburg
2
Middleburg
Middletown
2
Middletown
Milford Station
1
Milford Station
Mine Run
1
Mine Run
Monterey
1
Monterey
New Creek Station
1
New Creek Station
New Market
1
New Market
North Anna
1
North Anna
Old Church
1
Old Church
Opequon
2
Opequon
Peach tree Creek
1
Peach tree Creek
Petersburg
1
Petersburg
Picket
1
Picket
Piedmont
1
Piedmont
Piney Branch Church
1
Piney Branch Church
Poplar Springs
1
Poplar Springs
Port Republic
1
Port Republic
Prince George Court House
1
Prince George Court House
Racoon Ford
1
Racoon Ford
Rapidan
1
Rapidan
Rapidan Station
1
Rapidan Station
Rappahanock Station
3
Rappahanock Station
Resaca
1
Resaca
Richmond
1
Richmond
Robertson’s River
1
Robertson’s River
Robertson’s Tavern
1
Robertson’s Tavern
Rood’s Hill
1
Rood’s Hill
Shepherdstown
2
Shepherdstown
Smithfield
2
Smithfield
Snicker’s Gap
1
Snicker’s Gap
Stone Mountain
1
Stone Mountain
Strasburg
1
Strasburg
Todd’s Tavern
1
Todd’s Tavern
Tom’s Brook
1
Tom’s Brook
Totopotomoy
1
Totopotomoy
Trevilian Station
2
Trevilian Station
Turner’s Ferry
1
Turner’s Ferry
Upperville
1
Upperville
Wauhatchie
1
Wauhatchie
Weldon Railroad
1
Weldon Railroad
White House
1
White House
White Post
1
White Post
Wilderness
2
Wilderness
Willow Springs
1
Willow Springs
Winchester
1
Winchester
Yellow Tavern
1
Yellow Tavern
Yorktown
1
Yorktown
136th New York Infantry
14
136th New York Infantry
1st Michigan Cavalry
28
1st Michigan Cavalry
29th New York Infantry
6
29th New York Infantry
44th New York Infantry
22
44th New York Infantry
4th New York Cavalry
54
4th New York Cavalry

 

 

The next network I generated was a Circular Dendogram (whatever that is), which tended to reinforce the “regionalization” impression I got from my Palladio graph. In  this case, though, the resulting graph was much, much clearer and easier to follow.  Yet unlike Palladio, I was able to see more examples of units fighting in multiple regions.  For example, the network diagram confirmed that the 4th New York Cavalry was strictly a regionally aligned regiment while the 136th New York Infantry, as suggested by the Palladio graph, fought in northern Georgia and later at Gettysburg. But the Dendogram helped me see that the 136th also fought cross-regionally throughout northern Virginia, most notably at places like Chancellorsville.  This particular network diagram did the most to convince me that not all Union regiments were wedded to one region, further suggesting a higher degree of deployment capability and mobility than one might expect of a horse-drawn army.  Here is how my Dendogram looked:

136th New York InfantryChancellorsvilleGettysburgWauhatchieChattanoogaResacaCassvilleDallasKenesaw MountainPeach tree CreekAtlantaStone MountainAverasboroBentonvilleTurner’s Ferry1st Michigan CavalryBrentsvilleFort ScottGettysburgMontereyHagerstownFalling WatersRapidanRobertson’s RiverBrandy StationCentrevilleTodd’s TavernBeaver DamYellow TavernMilford StationHawes’s ShopOld ChurchCold HarborTrevilian StationWinchesterFront RoyalShepherdstownSmithfieldOpequonCedar CreekPicketDinwiddleFive ForksWillow Springs29th New York InfantryBull RunCross KeysGrovetonChancellorsvilleGettysburg44th New York InfantryYorktownHanover Court HouseGaines MillMalvern HillBull RunShepherdstownFredericksburgChancellorsvilleMiddleburgGettysburgRappahanock StationMine RunWildernessPiney Branch ChurchLaurel HillNorth AnnaTotopotomoyCold HarborBethesda ChurchPetersburgWeldon RailroadPoplar Springs4th New York CavalryRappahanock StationPiedmontNew Creek StationStrasburgHarrisonburgCross KeysPort RepublicNew MarketMiddletownLurayBull RunFairfax CourthouseGrove ChurchHartwood ChurchHope LandingKelly’s FordSnicker’s GapAldieMiddleburgUppervilleJones Cross RoadsCulpepper Court HouseBrentsvilleRacoon FordRapidan StationBeverly FordBealton StationRobertson’s TavernRichmondAylett’sWildernessTrevilian StationWhite HouseJones’ BridgeCharles City CourthousePrince George Court HouseDeep BottomWhite PostBerryvilleFront RoyalCharlestownHalltownSmithfieldLeetownOpequonFisher’s HillTom’s BrookRood’s HillLiberty MillsJefferson

 

Overall, I found both tools somewhat useful in providing clues to the regional mobility of various Union regiments during the Civil War.  But I’m not certain that these tools told me something that I couldn’t have gleaned from the Excel spreadsheet. Frankly, the hours of data construction that went into the spreadsheet was the real work. Uploading it and creating the network graphs was a breeze. The visualizations were certainly intriguing; but, at some point, my guess is that the data compiler could have come to the same conclusions about mobility and regionalization without graphically representing the data. Frankly, I prefer the the visualization and its impact, an impact made all the more effective by the general ease of use involved in reading the results of both programs.

 

Steve Rusiecki

 

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