Can you guess what this is?
It’s one of the Smithsonian National Museum of American History’s “landmark objects.” There are only six featured in the museum; this one’s on the third floor of the east wing.
According to the museum, the ambulance is one of 11 vehicles purchased by the Central Cuban Relief Committee of New York for use by Clara Barton and the American National Red Cross.
The committee sent the ambulance to Camp Thomas, an army debarkation camp in Chickamauga, Georgia, before the 1898 outbreak of the Spanish-American War. The Red Cross nurses at Camp Thomas helped care for U.S. Army soldiers called to Cuba, many of whom suffered that summer from typhoid. After the war, the Red Cross sent this ambulance to Clara Barton for use at her home in Glen Echo, Maryland, the organization’s headquarters and distribution center for relief supplies.
A quote from Clara: “The war side of war could never have called me to the field. I hate it. Only the desire to soften some of its hardships and allay some of its miseries ever induced me . . . dare its pestilent and unholy breath.”