First Texas Cavalry, USA

By: Eugene M. Ott, Jr. and Glen E. Lich

Type: General Entry

Published: September 1, 1995

Updated: August 2, 2020

During the Civil War Texas contributed two regiments and two battalions of cavalry to the federal army. A total of 1,915 men from Texas served the Union; of these 141 died, 12 in action. One source states that "the strength of the Texas Federal Regiments consisted primarily of Mexicans, Germans, and Irishmen." While it is true that the regiment had a high proportion of Spanish-speaking Texans and first-generation immigrants, among them German Unionists from the Hill Country, the officer cadre was mostly mainstream southern in background. The larger of the two Texas units was the First Texas Cavalry Regiment. It was organized at New Orleans, Louisiana, on November 6, 1862, under the command of Edmund J. Davis, who, before the war's end, became a brigadier general. The unit was composed of eight companies. Until September 1863 the First Texas Cavalry was assigned to the defense of New Orleans. During that time two companies were sent to Galveston but did not land due to the Confederate capture of that city in January 1863. While in Louisiana, the regiment saw its initial action on the Amite River in May 1863 and participated in operations around Morgan City. In September 1863 the First Texas Cavalry sailed from New Orleans as part of the Sabine Pass expedition but was not in action. Returning to Louisiana, the regiment was engaged in the Western Louisiana (Têche) Campaign from October 3 through October 17, 1863. The regiment was moved back to New Orleans at the end of this assignment and embarked on October 23 as part of the Rio Grande expedition, landing on the south Texas coast on November 2 and occupying Brownsville four days later. Within a month the First Texas Cavalry, which had reached Texas with a strength of 16 officers and 205 enlisted men, grew by slightly over 50 percent. During this time the Second Texas Cavalry Regiment was formed at Brownsville. Both regiments left Texas in July 1864 for Louisiana. Two companies, however, of the First Texas Cavalry remained at Brownsville and did not rejoin their parent regiment until six months later. In September 1864 the First Texas Cavalry was involved in some minor actions near Morganza, Louisiana. On November 1, 1864, the two regiments were merged into one twelve company regiment (normally a regiment at this time had ten companies). The new command was called the First Texas Volunteer Cavalry. Ordered to Baton Rouge on November 19, 1864, the First Texas Volunteers engaged in patrolling and reconnaissance duties until the end of the Civil War. In May and June 1865 the regiment was at Vidalia, Louisiana. On June 29, 1865, the Volunteers were ordered to Texas and mustered out of service on November 4, 1865.

Frederick H. Dyer, A Compendium of the War of the Rebellion (3 vols., 1908; rpt., Dayton, Ohio: National Historical Society, 1979). Stanley S. McGowen, Horse Sweat and Powder Smoke: The First Texas Cavalry in the Civil War (College Station: Texas A&M University, 1999). Frank H. Smyrl, "Texans in the Union Army, 1861–1865," Southwestern Historical Quarterly 65 (October 1961). The War of the Rebellion: A Compilation of the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies. Marcus J. Wright, comp., and Harold B. Simpson, ed., Texas in the War, 1861–1865 (Hillsboro, Texas: Hill Junior College Press, 1965).

Time Periods:

  • Civil War

The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this entry.

Eugene M. Ott, Jr. and Glen E. Lich, “First Texas Cavalry, USA,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed December 09, 2021,

Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

All copyrighted materials included within the Handbook of Texas Online are in accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107 related to Copyright and “Fair Use” for Non-Profit educational institutions, which permits the Texas State Historical Association (TSHA), to utilize copyrighted materials to further scholarship, education, and inform the public. The TSHA makes every effort to conform to the principles of fair use and to comply with copyright law.

For more information go to:

If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond fair use, you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.

September 1, 1995
August 2, 2020

This entry belongs to the following Handbook Special Projects: