The stagecoach was a closed four-wheeled vehicle drawn by horses or, on hard-going, mules. It was used as a public conveyance on an established route usually to a regular schedule. Its spent horses were replaced with fresh horses at stage stations (or posts or relays).
A simplified and lightened form of stagecoach known as a stage wagon or mud-coach or mud-wagon was used in the United States under difficult conditions. These were the vehicles that opened up the new stage routes in America's West. In addition to the stage driver or coachman who guided the vehicle, a shotgun messenger armed with a coach gun might travel as a guard beside him.
A stagecoach traveled at an average speed of about five miles per hour, with the total daily mileage covered being around 60 or 70 miles.
'Stage' originally referred to the distance between stage stations on a route but through metonymy it came to be applied to the stagecoach.