In May 1861, a frontier unit was organized at Camp Reeves in Sherman. Drawing volunteers from Cooke, Grayson, Hopkins, Red River, Fannin, Collin, Titus and Bowie counties, the regiment began with nearly 900 men and officers. Initially led by the noted Col. William Cocke Young, the unit fought its first battles in Indian Territory, now Oklahoma, securing the territory for the Confederacy. In October of that year, the unit was inducted into Confederate service as the 11th Texas Cavalry and joined with other forces in Arkansas.
Beginning in March 1862, at the Battle of Pea Ridge, or Elkhorn Tavern, the 11th Texas supported the Confederate Army. Following the battle, the unit became an infantry regiment, designated the 11th Texas Cavalry, Dismounted. For the remainder of the year, the troops were active in Mississippi, Tennessee and Kentucky. In early 1863, the 11th Texas fought at Murfreesboro, Tennessee, and shortly thereafter became a cavalry unit again. For the remainder of the war, the cavalry fought in Alabama, Georgia, South Carolina and North Carolina, participating in more than 100 battles and skirmishes. Notable engagements included Chickamauga, Knoxville, Dalton, Resaca, Allatoona Pass, Dallas/New Hope Church, Kennesaw Mountain, Atlanta, Savannah, and, finally, Bentonville, North Carolina. A small number of 11th Texas troops were present at the Confederate surrender at Durham Station, North Carolina, in April 1865.
One of the most active Texas Confederate units, the 11th Texas Cavalry served with distinction throughout the Civil War, continuing until the last major Confederate offensive had ended.