THE ADVOCATE 185
VOL. 78 PART 2 MARCH 2020
Advances in the destructive ability of weapons (the rifled and breech-
loading musket, as well as more powerful artillery, developed and manufactured
by Krupps), the telegraph, railways, and aerial reconnaissance by balloon,
all of which had increased man’s power to destroy life, should not, in
the eyes of the high command, be mitigated one whit by these fancy ideas
about bringing succor to the wounded. It would only interfere with the
management of troops in battle and tend to make the soldiers soft.
Dunant had run into a bigoted, blinkered high command—the same high
command that some 30 years later would deliberately manufacture false
evidence against Captain Alfred Dreyfus in order to preserve the treasured
honour of the French army.
Even Florence Nightingale found the sentiments in Dunant’s book to be
objectionable. In her view the proposed societies would take on responsibilities
which really belonged to the governments of the countries
involved in any war. She also scorned the idea that the aid proposed was
limited to times of war; she felt it ought to exist at all times in order to be
efficacious. She felt that the British army had, as a result of her own initiatives,
established its own hospitals, field dressing stations and nursing
staff and did not need some international organization to lend its aid. The
Crimean War of 1853–1856 had propelled this stubborn, domineering
woman to prominence.
However, the bulk of the correspondence that Dunant received supported
his initiative. General Trochu, who had fought on the French side at
Solferino, commended Dunant.
The following March another 3,000 copies of the book had to be printed
and this time it was made available to the general public. It was translated
into German, English, Italian and Swedish. The cause was taken up by
Queen Augusta of Prussia, Charles Dickens and many of the crowned heads
THE BROADER SWISS CONNECTION
A Swiss lawyer of some influence, Gustave Moynier, came to see Dunant
and recorded his dismay that Dunant appeared not to have any idea how he
was going to carry his appeal into practice. Moynier took up Dunant’s cause
and persuaded him to accept his concrete plan for the promotion and establishment
of the national societies. Moynier arranged for the plan to be discussed
at a meeting of the Geneva Society for Public Welfare on February 9,
1863. To Dunant’s mild chagrin, Moynier seemed to have taken over his
enterprise. This was just as well, for Moynier was a capable administrator,
while Dunant was an idealistic dreamer.