Mail guards rode in the rear of mail coaches to protect and announce the mail. Mail guards were positioned on the hind boot (called a "dicky") of the coach to better protect the mail. They were sometimes thrown off the back of the coach by the roughness of the journey and were frequently not missed until the absence of their bugle calls drew attention (Robinson 240).
Mail guards were equipped with a long, straight bugle horn used to announce the mail coach's right of way and to signal toll keepers to keep their gates open (240). They also carried a cutlass (a short heavy sword with a curved blade), a brace of pistols, and a blunderbuss rifle (240).
Mail was placed in locked boxes under the feet of mail guards (240). If a mail coach broke down, the mail guard was responsible for commandeering a horse and riding the mail bags to the next station (240).
The Law of 1811 forbade "indiscriminate shooting by the mail guards," and a blunderbuss fired not in defense of the mail brought the guard a fine of five pounds (240).
Rates and Terms
Postal Moneys Used for War
Postal Reform of 1840
Quotes from Austen's Characters