The existing biographies of Haig pay little attention to his pre- war life. This thesis attempts to correct this deficiency. The aim is
to offer a complete picture of Haig on the eve of war and to show how
his development was shaped by personal, professional and social factors.
The thesis has relied mainly on material from the Haig Papers, with
additional evidence taken from the manuscripts of Haig's contemporaries.
The introduction reviews the existing studies of Haig and discusses
the deficiencies of these. The need for a new approach is outlined.
Chapter I covers the period from 1861 -1879, and deals with Haig's
childhood, family background and education, up to and including the
period at Clifton. Special emphasis is given to Haig's important relationship with his mother.
Chapter II covers the period 1879 -1883, when Haig was at Oxford.
It analyses the education he received, the life he led and his eventual
decision to join the Army.
Chapter III deals with the period 1883 -1892. It begins with Haig
at Sandhurst, and examines the training he received. The remainder of
the chapter covers Haig's period as a 7th Hussar, most of which was
spent in India. A brief examination of the Victorian Army and in particular the cavalry is included in the chapter.
Chapter IV covers the period 1892-897. Haig left India to compete
for the Staff College, but failed the entrance examination. He lobbied
to gain entry and was finally admitted in 1896. The chapter analyses the
quality and relevance of the training he received during his two years
at the College.
Chapter V deals with the Sudan Campaign (1897- 1898), Haig's first
experience of active service. It shows how the experience in the Sudan,
though not a positive one for the cavalry, did not alter Haig's faith
in the arm.
Chapter VI covers the Boer War (1898 -1902). This is the most important chapter in the thesis because, as a result of the war, Haig's faith
in the cavalry became rigid. The Boer War was the terminus of Haig's
development as a soldier; his strategical and tactical beliefs underwent
no significant change after 1902.
Chapter VII covers1902 -1906, when Haig was Inspector General of
Cavalry in India. His development as a soldier now complete, the focus
of the thesis is shifted to the consolidation of his position within the
Army and to the influential people who aided this consolidation.
Chapter VIII deals with 1906 -1909, when Haig assisted R. B. Haldane
in the program of Army reform. The chapter analyses Haig's contribution
to reform. His continued rise, professionally and socially, is charted.
Chapter IX covers the period 1909 -1914, and focuses on Haig's
further rise within the Army. The first two years were spent in India
as Chief of Staff, the last two at Aldershot as 1st Corps Commander.
Haig's role in the events leading up to the despatch of the B.E.F. for
France is studied.
The final chapter is an epilogue. A brief summary of the rest of
Haig's life is provided. The chapter then shifts to an analysis of the
challenges presented by the Great War and examines Haig's ability (based
on his pre-war record) to meet them.