The Thirteenth Texas Cavalry Regiment was organized in the winter of 1861 at Crockett, Texas, and mustered into service at Camp Burnett in Houston County near Crockett, Texas, on February 22, 1862. The original field officers included: Col. John H. Burnett, Maj. Charles R. Beatty, Lt. Col. Anderson F. Crawford, and Maj. Elias T. Seale. The unit was composed of ten companies that included men who came primarily from Anderson, Angelina, Cherokee, Leon, Henderson, Houston, Hunt, Jasper, Kaufman, Madison, McLennan, Newton, Polk, Trinity, Tyler, and Orange counties. There were originally 1,125 men, however, due to the Confederate Conscription Act of April 16, 1862, the number was reduced to 842. The unit was known by several alternate names including: Burnett's Cavalry, Beatty's Cavalry, Seale's Cavalry, Crawford's Cavalry, Young's Cavalry, Bean's Cavalry, and Smith's Cavalry.
The Thirteenth Texas Cavalry primarily served west of the Mississippi River and was ordered from Camp McCulloch near Tyler, Texas, to Camp Nelson near Little Rock, Arkansas, on July 2, 1862. The regiment was delayed in Lafayette County, Arkansas, due to an epidemic of measles and typhoid fever in which the unit lost thirty men. The Thirteenth Texas Cavalry Regiment camped near Spring Bank but later moved near Walnut Hills. During the winter of 1862 the men suffered from terrible conditions and epidemics of typhoid fever, pneumonia, and tuberculosis at Camp Bayou Metre near Pine Bluff, Arkansas. By the end of February 1863, the unit was reduced to 615 men, and the following harsh winter resulted in twenty-five deaths. They were attached to McCulloch's, Young's, and Waul's Brigade, as well as Gen. John G. Walker's Texas Division and dismounted shortly thereafter for the duration of the war. Thomas J. Rounsaville recalled, "When we dismounted we was sadly disappointed for we was compelled to take it afoot and we walked about two hundred miles and our feet was blistered considerably. Some of our boys gave entirely out."
The Thirteenth Texas Cavalry Regiment helped construct earthworks near Pine Bluff and attempted to relieve Confederate units at the siege of Vicksburg. The unit participated in several engagements in western Louisiana from April 1863 to May 1864, including: Young's Point, Fort Bisland, Bayou Teche, Brashear City, Cox's Plantation, Bayou LaFourche, Teche Country, Bayou Bourbeau, the Camden Expedition, Wilson's Farm, Sabine Cross Roads, Mansfield, Pleasant Hill, Jenkins' Ferry, and Alexandria. In February 1864, the regiment included only 145 men, and it suffered more than fifty losses during the battles of Mansfield and Pleasant Hill that spring. Following the Red River campaign, the unit was stationed in Shreveport for the remainder of the war. Due to chronic health problems Colonel Burnett resigned on April 22, 1864, and returned to Crockett, Texas. In November 1864 the unit moved to winter quarters near Minden, Louisiana, and by January 27, 1865, relocated to Shreveport. On February 18, 1865, the unit was honored by a huge barbeque in Shreveport. The Thirteenth Texas Cavalry Regiment was ordered back to Texas and arrived at Camp Groce near Hempstead on April 15, 1865. They officially surrendered in Galveston, Texas, on June 2, 1865.