The Tenth Texas Cavalry Regiment was organized from the late summer to the early fall of 1861. Many of its members were recruited from the Texas counties of Cherokee, Wood, Upshur, Smith, Rusk, Shelby, Panola, and Van Zandt and the towns of Quitman and Tyler. The unit was organized into ten companies and mustered into service in the Confederate Army in October 1861. The Tenth Texas' first commander was Matthew F. Locke. Its field commanders included James M. Barton (lieutenant colonel), Washington de la F. Craig (major, lieutenant colonel), Cullen R. Earp (lieutenant colonel, colonel), Wiley B. Ector (major), and Hullum D. E. Redwine (major).
For the first few months of the war the Tenth Texas served west of the Mississippi River in Texas, Arkansas, and Louisiana as part of the Department of Texas. In April 1862 the unit was dismounted and sent east of the Mississippi River where it served for the remainder of the war. At this time, the unit totaled 565 effectives in the field. The Tenth Texas' first significant action was in support of operations against the advance and siege of Corinth, Mississippi, by Union forces. During this campaign, the unit was part of the First Division, Army of the West. In August 1862 the Tenth Texas participated in the battle of Richmond, Kentucky, and an engagement at White's Farm.
Beginning in November 1862 the Tenth Texas was assigned to Ector's Brigade, Army of Tennessee. It participated in operations against the Union advance on Murfreesboro, Tennessee, including the battle of Stones River from December 30, 1862, to January 3, 1863. Of the 340 total effectives that the Tenth Texas put into battle at Stones River, 34 percent were lost. The Tenth Cavalry was included on the roll of honor published to commemorate heroism at the battle of Stone's River. Ten members of the regiment were mentioned on that roll: Pvt. Alexander Cook, Pvt. F. M. Moore, Sgt. J. T. McGee, Sgt. A. Sims, Pvt. James Terry, Pvt. W. W. Corley, Pvt. Stanley Hutchins, Pvt. J. O. Manning, Pvt. Joel Reynolds, and Pvt. S. L. Birdwell.
On March 20, 1863, Col. Matthew F. Locke resigned for reasons of health stemming from injuries sustained at the battle of Stones River. Lt. Col. C. R. Earp was promoted to commanding officer of the Tenth Cavalry. From August 16 to September 19, 1863, the Tenth Cavalry served as occupational troops in Middle Tennessee where it protected the passage through the Cumberland Mountains. On September 19, 1863, the unit participated in the battle of Chickamauga, the only significant Confederate victory in the Western theater of the war.
Following the battle of Chickamauga, the Tenth Cavalry saw action in the siege of Chattanooga and the subsequent campaign to take the city including the assault and capture of Missionary Ridge on November 24–25, 1863. From February to March 1863, the unit took part in operations against William Sherman's Meridian campaign. Later, it served in defense against Sherman's Atlanta campaign including early operations on the line of Pumpkin Vine Creek and the battles of Dallas, New Hope Church, and Allatoona Hills. As Union forces closed in on Atlanta, the Tenth Cavalry participated in the actions at Pine Hill, Lost Mountain, and the assault of Kennesaw Mountain.
In July 1864 the regiment was still serving in the defense of Atlanta and operated along Nickajack Creek (July 2–5) and along the Chattahoochee River (July 5–10). On July 22, 1864, the unit took part in the battle of Atlanta and the subsequent siege of that city. Following the fall of Atlanta, the Tenth Cavalry was assigned to participate in the harsh winter operations of Hood's Texas Brigade in Northern Georgia and Northern Alabama.
In December 1864 the unit returned to Tennessee where it participated in the battle of Nashville, skirmishes near Columbia, and actions around Sugar Creek. From March 17 to April 9, 1865, the Tenth Cavalry took part in the defense of Mobile, Alabama. On April 11 the regiment was evacuated from Mobile and finally surrendered at Citronelle, Alabama, on May 4, 1865. The Tenth Cavalry surrendered with other Confederate troops in the Department of Alabama, Mississippi, and East Louisiana. The unit, along with other troops in the department, was the last significant Confederate force east of the Mississippi River to surrender. As a result, very few men remained in service with the unit when it surrendered. The Tenth Texas was later paroled at Meridian, Mississippi.