In early 1862 the Thirty-first Texas formed with Col. Trezevant C. Hawpe in command. Although most members came from Dallas County and the surrounding area, two companies were added from Travis and Bexar counties. In June the unit left for Arkansas where it joined a cavalry brigade, with the Twenty-second Texas and the Thirty-fourth Texas, under Col. D. H. Cooper. The regiment skirmished successfully with Federal troops in Missouri near Newtonia in September. During the fall the brigade withdrew into Arkansas where illness and changes of commanders created disruption and led to conversion of the regiment to infantry. Despite the resulting poor morale, the Thirty-first Texas Dismounted Cavalry, led by Lt. Col. George W. Guess, fought at Prairie Grove, Arkansas, in December.
In February 1863, while the brigade marched through snow from Fort Smith to the Red River, Hawpe resigned as its commander. That spring orders sent the brigade to join Gen. Richard Taylor in Louisiana. In May the Thirty-first Texas and another infantry regiment moved down to the Mississippi River where they harassed Union riverboats and outposts during the summer. On September 29, the brigade, including the Thirty-first Texas under Maj. Frederick Malone, defeated Federal troops at Stirling' Plantation in a surprise attack ordered by Gen. Thomas Green. In October, Gen. Camille de Polignac became commander of the brigade which was expanded by the return of the other dismounted cavalry regiments.
During February and March 1864, the brigade skirmished with Union forces at Vidalia and Harrisonburg before joining General Taylor in the Red River campaign. At Sabine Crossroads and Pleasant Hill on April 8 and 9, the regiment helped drive back the Federal advance. The regiment and the brigade harassed the Union withdrawal into May. After a failed effort to cross the Mississippi River in August, the brigade moved to Arkansas in September, then back to Louisiana in November. In March 1865 the Thirty-first Texas returned to its home state where it disbanded in May.