As was the custom of the time, wounded who were unable to walk were left behind to die. After centuries of warfare, Europeans adopted this practice mainly because meaningful field medicine was not yet available.
For a visiting Swiss businessman, Jean-Henri Dunant, the carnage of war was a shocking new experience. After several hours, the sound of battle finally subsided and the armies withdrew. Later that day the cries from thousands of broken bodies echoed through the valley and haunted everyone in the small town, particularly Dunant. By nightfall, he had mustered a small army of doctors and helpers armed only with bags stuffed full of bandages and souls brimming with compassion.
Four years later, Dunant collected his experiences and deep feelings in a book entitled Un Souvenir de Solferino (A Memory of Solferino). Soon after, the guilt and revulsion at the great cost and inhumanity of war finally reached the capitols of the reigning kingdoms and republics.
Barely seven years after Solferino, Dunant's vision to "press forward in a human and truly civilized spirit... to prevent or at least alleviate the horrors of war" was taken up as a continental mission and helped organize the first Geneva convention.
Thus, one of the greatest human visions was finally realized and the International Red Cross movement began.