The Thirty-sixth Texas Cavalry was the highest officially numbered Texas cavalry regiment. The unit was organized on March 22, 1862, at Belton, Texas, and is often incorrectly confused with the Thirty-second and Fifteenth Texas cavalries. The original officers included Col. Peter C. Woods, Lt. Col. Nathaniel Benton, Lt. William O. Hutchinson, and Maj. Stokely M. Holmes. The Thirty-sixth Texas Cavalry consisted of ten companies that included 823 men from Bee, Bell, Bexar, Caldwell, Comal, DeWitt, Gonzales, Guadalupe, Hays, and Hopkins counties. The unit was known by several alternate names including: Woods's Cavalry, Benton's Cavalry, Holmes's Cavalry, Hutchinson's Cavalry, and White's Cavalry.
In the summer of 1862 the Thirty-sixth Texas Cavalry was stationed at Camps Bee, Clark, Frio, Hood, Magruder, Salado, and Verde in Texas. It patrolled the Texas coast from Fredericksburg to Brownsville until July 1862. The soldiers protected cotton wagons going into Mexico to sell to English traders at Matamoros. The unit then traveled to San Antonio Springs before spending the winter of 1862 at Port Lavaca on Matagorda Bay. They were assigned to the Ringgold Barracks and Camp Sibley near Fort Brown around Brownsville in the spring of 1863. The unit was later assigned to Camp Rocky near Sweet Home and Camp Sidney Johnston before being assigned to Hamilton Bee and Arthur Bagby's Brigade. They operated primarily in the Trans-Mississippi and participated in engagements in Louisiana during the Red River campaign. The unit was involved in near daily skirmishes from mid-March through the end of May in 1864. In March they fought at Monett's Ferry, Cloutierville, and Natchitoches, Louisiana. In April the unit participated in fighting at Crump's Hill, Piney Woods, Campti, Wilson's Farm, Bayou De Paul, Mansfield, Pleasant Hill, Blair's Landing, Bayou Rapides Bridge, McNutt's Hill, and Alexandria, Louisiana. In May the Thirty-sixth Texas Cavalry fought at Ashwood Landing, Governor Moore's Plantation, Bayou Lamourie, Alexandria, Avoyelles Prarie, Mansura, Bell Prairie, Marksville, Moreauville, Yellow Bayou, Bayou DeGlaize, and Norwood's Plantation in Louisiana. Colonel Woods, a surgeon by trade, taught his surgeon the use of the aseptic technique he learned in New York to help his men recover from wounds and avoid amputations. Colonel Woods was wounded in the left arm at the battle of Yellow Bayou on May 18, 1864, but the use of this technique helped to speed his recovery.
Shortly after the Red River campaign, the Thirty-sixth Texas Cavalry returned to Crockett, Texas, and remained there until early 1865. The unit was then ordered to Galveston, where it served on garrison and provost duty. William Walter Mabry reported that some of the men in Wood's Regiment were located in Houston on April 18 and when the surrender appeared inevitable shook hands and drifted towards home. The remainder of the Thirty-sixth Texas Cavalry was actually present in Galveston when the surrender was agreed upon by Gen. Edmund Kirby Smith on May 26, 1865, and was paroled there in early June 1865. The Thirty-sixth Texas Cavalry arranged a unit reunion in 1898, and at the meeting Colonel Woods told those present how proud he was to have spent time with them during the war, and, with tears in his eyes, he paid tribute to the men who died on the battlefield.