Thirty-Third Texas Cavalry

By: Charles D. Grear

Type: General Entry

Published: March 31, 2011

The origins of the Thirty-third Texas Cavalry began when James Duff organized the Fourteenth Texas Cavalry Battalion. Duff, an immigrant from Scotland, established a merchant business in San Antonio in 1856. In the summer of 1862, the Texas government ordered his Fourteenth Texas Cavalry Battalion to the Hill Country to break up the Union Loyal League, organized by German immigrants, and enforce the oath of allegiance. Fearing punishment, many Germans fled Texas for safety in Mexico and the North. Their flight out of the state led to one of the deadliest events in German Texan history. A number of members of the Union Loyal League, led by Maj. Fritz Tegener, were among the many Germans attempting to escape to Mexico. Confederate Texans, led by Duff, received news of their departure and attempted to stop their flight. The Texans intercepted the Germans on the west bank of the Nueces River twenty miles from Fort Clark, on August 10, 1862, at what was to become known as the battle of the Nueces. In the skirmish, the Fourteenth Texas Cavalry Battalion attacked and killed the majority of the fleeing immigrants.

After the battle of the Nueces, the Fourteenth Texas Cavalry Battalion expanded to the Thirty-third Texas Cavalry Regiment with the introduction of several Tejano companies raised by Santos Benavides, a successful merchant, rancher, and former mayor of Laredo. The newly-organized regiment patrolled the Rio Grande and defended against raiding bandits and Unionists from Mexico. By November 1863 Benevidas received permission to organize a new contingent, Benavides's Regiment, and he was promoted from major to colonel. After the departure of Benavides, the Thirty-third was spread across South and Central Texas with Duff and five companies stationed at Corpus Christi, one company camped at San Antonio, and the balance patrolling the lower Rio Grande. In April 1864 the regiment was removed to Bonham in North Texas because of supply shortages. By summer, the Thirty-third joined Sam Bell Maxey's command. As Gano's Brigade returned to Texas after their raid into the Indian Territory that resulted in the Second Battle of Cabin Creek, General Maxey attached Colonel Duff's Thirty-third Texas Cavalry to the brigade. These men, being fresh and rested, escorted Federal prisoners captured during the raid to Camp Ford in Tyler, Texas. As the war ended, the Thirty-third received a transfer to William P. Hardeman's Brigade and finally disbanded in May 1865.

Compiled Service Records of Confederate Soldiers Who Served in Organizations from the State of Texas, National Archives and Records Service, Washington. Ella Lonn, Foreigners in the Confederacy (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1940). Jerry D. Thompson, Mexican Texans in the Union Army (El Paso: Texas Western Press, 1986). Jerry D. Thompson, Vaqueros in Blue and Gray (Austin: State House Press, 2000). R. H. Williams, With the Border Ruffians: Memories of the Far West, 1852–1868 (New York: Dutton, 1907; 2d ed., London: Murray, 1908; Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1982).

Time Periods:

  • Civil War

The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this entry.

Charles D. Grear, “Thirty-Third Texas Cavalry,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed January 21, 2022,

Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

March 31, 2011

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