In 1769 military engineer Nicolas Cugnot built the first vehicle able to move without animal power. A boiler alternately supplied two cylinders on either side of a single drive wheel with steam, exerting linear pressure on the pistons, which a system of ratchet wheels turned into movement. This mechanism, previously used in clockmaking, also allowed the vehicle to move backwards. Promising trials of a small prototype encouraged Cugnot to make another fardier, which could carry five tons at a speed of four km/h. In 1771 he abandoned the bold project, which had unleashed the passions of men like the artillery field marshal Marquis de Saint-Auban. "The craze for new things, Sirs, has been taken to a nearly unbelievable level," he wrote in a letter dated 1779. "The claim has even been made that fire machines set in motion by piston pumps can replace the horses and carriages that pull artillery."