Image: A four-person open carriage
Wagonette, buckboard, surrey, buggy, limber, and caisson, and more. And you thought there were only a couple of means of horse-drawn transportation in the nineteenth century! It can get confusing. However, I am sure nineteenth-century people would be just as confused by contemporary terms such as SUV, sedan, compact, stretch limo, and so on. So, let’s take a little tour of the 1800s version of cool rides. Some even were cool in the physical sense, since their riders were exposed to the elements.
A wagonette is a smallish vehicle that has benches along the sides and permits riders to face each other. Seating about six to seven people, this wagon could be covered or open to the air.
Image: from MacKowiak Shop http://mackowiakshop.com/products/wagonette-surrey
A surrey, on the other hand, contains two passenger seats facing front, and has no doors but does have a roof. Behold, the surrey with the fringe on top (below).
Image from Hansen Wheel Wagon Shop
A brougham is an enclosed vehicle that could seat two to four people inside. The driver sat outside at the front of the carriage.
Image from http://www.carriages.com.au/vehicles.html
A buckboard is an open wagon with a board at the front between the driver and the horse. If the horse “bucked” or kicked its hind legs back, the driver was protected. A working wagon, the buckboard was used for hauling things and usually did not have seats, although one might be provided for the driver, as we see in the photo below.
Image from Custom Wagon Wheels
On the Civil War battlefield, a two-wheeled vehicle called a limber was used to haul artillery and a caisson was a two-wheeled vehicle hauled by the limber. The caisson held cases of extra ammunition, an extra wheel, and an extra limber pole.
In the photo below, the limber is in front and would be pulled by horses. It holds an ammunition case. The caisson is attached behind and carries more ammunition and an extra wheel. You would not have had a flat tire in the 1800s, but your wheel could always give out if a spoke broke or something else went wrong.
image: Limber and caisson, Minecreek Battlefield, Gettysburg National, Select Bibliography
There. You have had an introductory course in 19th century forms of horse-drawn transport. Now you can time-travel back to the days of the Civil War and be fluent when you ask for a vehicle.
See you Monday!
Janet Stafford, Squeaking Pips Founder