The Twenty-eighth Texas Cavalry Regiment was organized in May 1862 by Col. Horace Randal. It was formed with about 1,021 men and twelve companies, although one company was transferred to the Nineteenth Texas Infantry Regiment in mid-1864. The companies, which had colorful names like the "Clough and Hill Avengers," were made up of men from East Texas counties, primarily Shelby, Cherokee, Panola, Cass, Smith, Harrison, Upshur, Anderson, Freestone, Houston, Trinity, and Polk.
Because the Twenty-eighth was not formed at the outset of war, its membership was a little different from some of the other Texas Confederate regiments. On average, the men were older, more likely to be married, less likely to own slaves, and less affluent. The Twenty-eighth had to take out an advertisement in the Marshall Texas Republican for weapon donations. Furthermore, the unit was dismounted soon after its creation, not due to lack of horses, but rather to a lack of forage for the animals at their destination in Arkansas.
In July 1862 the Twenty-eighth Texas Cavalry left Texas and traveled by way of Shreveport, Louisiana, to Camp Nelson near Austin, Arkansas. There, the Twenty-eighth joined three Texas infantry regiments and a dismounted cavalry battalion in a brigade commanded by their first colonel, Horace Randal. Eli H. Baxter, Jr., took command of the regiment. In October 1862 the unit became part of a new division organized by Brig. Gen. Henry E. McCulloch. During the fall of 1862 the regiment suffered terribly from sickness and lost seventy-eight men to disease and infection.
On January 1, 1863, Maj. Gen. John G. Walker took command of the division and soon became its namesake. Walker's grandfather had served on George Washington's staff, and Walker himself had fought with Gen. Winfield Scott's army in the Mexican War and earned the rank of captain. In September 1861 he resigned his position with the United States Army and joined the Confederacy and served under Robert E. Lee. He quickly ascended the ranks, and his skillful leadership was rewarded with command of his own Texas division.
The Twenty-eighth Cavalry's first campaign came in early 1863 when it was dispatched to the relief of the Confederate fort at Arkansas Post. However, the unit arrived immediately after the surrender of the post and saw no action. It then went into winter quarters from February until April 1863.
The Twenty-eighth spent the late spring and early summer of 1863 in fruitless efforts to aid in the relief of Vicksburg. It did not participate in any significant fighting but still wound up worn out from marching and countermarching in central Louisiana. In the fall of 1863, Union troops sought to mount an overland offensive across southern Louisiana into Texas, which Walker's Texas Division played a role in turning back. Once again, however, the Twenty-eighth did not fight in any major battle. It spent the months from December 1863 until February 1864 in winter camp.
In the spring of 1864, Union forces commanded by Gen. Nathaniel P. Banks, supported by a large flotilla of gunboats, began an advance up the Red River with the intention of disrupting the Confederacy's Trans-Mississippi Department, destroying its supply base in Texas, establishing a loyalist state government in Louisiana, and planting the United States flag in Texas to warn the French in Mexico against meddling in the Civil War. The Twenty-eighth Texas Cavalry played a key role in opposing Banks's forces and in the process engaged in the only heavy combat that it saw during the war. At the victorious battle of Mansfield on April 8, the regiment had four killed and seventeen wounded. On the following day, at Pleasant Hill, the Twenty-eighth participated in an attack on the Federals who had taken a defensive position and lost nine dead, forty-four wounded, and two missing. Union troops held their position, but Banks soon broke off his campaign and moved down the Red River.
The men of the Twenty-eighth were bloodied and exhausted, but they had no time to rest. Union Gen. Fredrick Steele had moved an army from Little Rock toward Shreveport, with the intention of joining Banks's forces in the Red River campaign, when news of Mansfield and Pleasant Hill caused him to retreat. Units of Walker's Texas Division, including the Twenty-eighth Cavalry pursued the Federals and forced a fight on April 30, 1864, at the battle of Jenkins' Ferry on the Saline River. One member of Walker's Texas Division described the battle as an "incessant roar of musketry," which lasted more than six hours. And it cost the Twenty-eighth more casualties than any other engagement during the war – twenty killed, forty wounded, and two missing. Horace Randal, the unit's first colonel and now a brigadier general, was mortally wounded and died on May 2.
In August 1864 General Walker was replaced by Maj. Gen. John H. Forney, a graduate of West Point and a harsh disciplinarian. His style of strict control was resented by the men of Walker's Greyhounds, and when the order came to cross to the east side of the Mississippi River in August 1864, many in the brigade refused to follow their new leader. Furthermore, duties seemed to consist more of watching out for civil disputes than facing an enemy, and pay was short, as were tempers. The unit was ordered to Hempstead, Texas, in early 1865 and officially disbanded in May.