Author Doug Nelson tells us that the American Civil War was the birth place of the present-day Chuckwagon. Back then it was a hospital unit used by the Union Army surgeons. It was a light but sturdy canvas covered wagon with an upright chest for medical supplies attached to the back. It had a hinged end-gate which could be lowered for use as an operating table when the wagon reached casualties. Charles Goodnight is often credited with modifying this basic unit and putting it to use on the cattle ranges of the USA. As the wagons traveled north with the cattle, they became not only the mobile camp kitchen, but also the social, medical and strategic hubs of the cattle drives and roundups.