The Nineteenth Texas Cavalry served in the Trans-Mississippi Department as part of Parsons's Brigade throughout the Civil War. The regiment mustered into the Confederate Army on March 31, 1862, when fear of the draft encouraged many men to join the cavalry before being inducted into the infantry. The colonel, Nathaniel Macon Burford, had been a law partner of Confederate postmaster general John H. Reagan and served as a district judge in Dallas and surrounding counties. He had joined a battery recruited at Dallas shortly after the war began and fought in Arkansas under Ben McCulloch. In the winter of 1861 Reagan secured a colonel's commission for Burford and permission for him to raise a mounted regiment in North Central Texas. Companies came primarily from the following locations: Company A from Ellis County; Company B from Dallas County; Company C from Ellis County; Company D from Hill County; Company E from Parker County; Company F from Dallas County; Company G from Kaufman County; Company H from McLennan County; Company I from Dallas and Navarro counties; and Company K from Dallas County.
Burford took the regiment to Arkansas in the autumn of 1862. It is unclear how Burford joined William Henry Parsons's Brigade, especially since the authorities had recommended the troops be transferred to infantry. It is probable that he asked his friends in Richmond to intercede and help his regiment retain its horses, although the lieutenant colonel, Benjamin W. Watson, made a personal plea to Maj. Gen. Thomas C. Hindman in Little Rock to countermand the order to dismount. The Nineteenth operated as scouts and raiders in Arkansas, skirmishing frequently with Union cavalry, until selected to take part in the invasion of Missouri in the spring of 1863. Brig. Gen. John S. Marmaduke took the majority of Parsons's Brigade on the Cape Girardeau raid between April 17 and May 2, 1863, serving under the direct command of Col. George W. Carter. Soon after returning to Arkansas, the Nineteenth was ordered to rejoin Colonel Parsons and the Twelfth Texas in northern Louisiana to help in the defense of Vicksburg. In Louisiana the regiment raided Federally-run plantations that used freed Blacks as labor. They raided in the region of Lake Providence and Milliken's Bend.
The Nineteenth saw no major action until Maj. Gen. Nathaniel Banks's invasion of Louisiana in 1864. The regiment did not arrive in time to take part in the fighting at Mansfield and Pleasant Hill but did participate in following the Union Army on its retreat down the Red River, fighting numerous skirmishes with Union cavalry and infantry. The Nineteenth saw its last action at the battle of Yellow Bayou on May 18, 1864.
Burford commanded the regiment until his resignation following the Red River campaign in the spring of 1864; it was subsequently ably commanded by Lt. Col. Benjamin Watson, who had generally led the men in Burford's absence. Returning to Texas early in 1865, the regiment disbanded on May 23, 1865. Throughout its three years of service, the Nineteenth provided valuable service as scouts and raiders and took part in the defense of Texas in the Red River campaign of 1864.