You may recall that last year I wrote about a reproduction ambulance wagon which was on loan to the Pry House Field Hospital Museum, and was on display in the barn. Since the Pry Barn was used as a field hospital during the Battle of Antietam, it has probably “seen” many ambulance wagons pass by its doors. So, it’s quite fitting to have an ambulance on display in the barn. In case you missed it, the link to that post is here.
Though technically it is not an artifact, the ambulance was very popular with our visitors, and it added to our interpretation of the Pry House and Barn. So, when we were offered the chance to purchase a different reproduction ambulance, we knew we had to find a way to make it happen! Normally, we have to rely on the generosity of people who donate artifacts to our museum. In this case, we will need to raise the money to purchase this ambulance, so we will be hoping for the generosity of people to donate to our “Help Us Keep This Ambulance!” fund.
During the Civil War, ambulance wagons were essential for quickly transporting wounded soldiers from the battlefields to the hospitals. At the beginning of the war, many of the ambulances were two-wheeled wagons. While they were lighter and faster than the four-wheeled wagons, they broke down more often, and did not offer a smooth ride for the patients being transported. Soldiers often referred to these two-wheeled wagons as “gut-busters!”
The four-wheeled ambulances were soon favored. They were equipped with springs in the undercarriage which greatly improved the ride for the patients. They also could carry more patients, they broke down less often than the two-wheeled version, and when they did break down they were easier to repair.
To read a little more about our ambulance wagon and about Civil War medicine, click here.
So, if we want to keep this ambulance wagon, we have some fundraising work to do now. I’m hoping that in the near future I will be able to report that we own the ambulance!
Photos courtesy of the National Museum of Civil War Medicine, except where otherwise noted.