While our physical offices are closed until further notice in accordance with Austin's COVID-19 "stay home-work safe" order, the Handbook of Texas will remain available at no-cost for you, your fellow history enthusiasts, and all Texas students currently mandated to study from home. If you have the capacity to help us maintain our online Texas history resources during these uncertain times, please consider making a 100% tax-deductible contribution today. Thank you for your support of TSHA and Texas history. Donate Today »


David Paul Smith

FIRST REGIMENT, TEXAS MOUNTED RIFLEMEN. The First Regiment, Texas Mounted Riflemen, was the first regiment in Texas to be mustered into Confederate service in 1861. On March 4, 1861, Confederate secretary of war Leroy Pope Walker directed Benjamin McCulloch to raise a regiment of ten companies of mounted riflemen to protect the Texas frontier between the Red River and the Rio Grande. McCulloch, hoping for a command east of the Mississippi River, turned the colonel's commission over to his brother, Henry Eustace McCulloch, who, on February 5, 1861, had been appointed to the rank of colonel by the state Committee of Public Safety and already had five under-strength companies along the state's northwestern frontier to replace the United States troops withdrawn after secession.

In mid-March Henry McCulloch arrived in Austin, where he recruited men for five additional companies for the new regiment. By the early part of April he had his regiment organized with men recruited from Bexar, Travis, Gonzales, Bell, Comanche, Bosque, Rusk, Burleson, and Lamar counties. The men already on the frontier who wished to join the new regiment had to be mustered out of state service and into Confederate service. By mid-April McCulloch's new regiment entered Confederate service as the First Regiment, Texas Mounted Riflemen, also known as the First Texas Mounted Rifles. This was not only the first regiment in the state organized for Confederate service, but the original commission to Ben McCulloch was one of the first in the Confederacy.

At San Antonio Henry McCulloch was elected colonel, Thomas C. Frost lieutenant colonel, and Edward Burleson, Jr., major. By the following month the ten companies of the regiment occupied a line of forts from Camp Jackson, at the confluence of the Red River and the Big Wichita, southwestward to Fort Belknap, Camp Cooper, Fort Phantom Hill, Fort Chadbourne, Camp Colorado, Camp Concho (at present-day San Angelo), Fort McKavett, and Fort Mason.

McCulloch's patrols covered the regiment's 400-mile line, to which were added regular expeditions of two to three weeks into suspected haunts of hostile Indians northwest of the line of forts. The summer and fall of 1861 saw diminished Indian activity compared to the years before the war, and no major incursions of Indians into the settlements. McCulloch returned to San Antonio in September to take temporary command of the Department of Texas, and in December he accepted command of the Western Military District of Texas. As his attention turned to defense of the Texas coast his regiment on the Indian frontier was commanded for a time by his adjutant and senior officers.

The enlistment for the regiment was to run out in the spring of 1862; rumors spread that Confederate officials planned to remove it from the frontier. The regiment mustered out in mid-April 1862 at Fort Mason, and the state-financed Frontier Regiment replaced it on the frontier. Some of the men returned to frontier service, but most enlisted in the Eighth Texas Cavalry Battalion, which later became part of the First Texas Cavalry Regiment.

Harry M. Henderson, Texas in the Confederacy (San Antonio: Naylor, 1955). Frances Richard Lubbock, Six Decades in Texas (Austin: Ben C. Jones, 1900; rpt., Austin: Pemberton, 1968). David Paul Smith, Frontier Defense in Texas, 1861–1865 (Ph.D. dissertation, North Texas State University, 1987). The War of the Rebellion: A Compilation of the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies.

Image Use Disclaimer

All copyrighted materials included within the Handbook of Texas Online are in accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107 related to Copyright and “Fair Use” for Non-Profit educational institutions, which permits the Texas State Historical Association (TSHA), to utilize copyrighted materials to further scholarship, education, and inform the public. The TSHA makes every effort to conform to the principles of fair use and to comply with copyright law.

For more information go to: http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/17/107.shtml

If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond fair use, you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.


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

Handbook of Texas Online, David Paul Smith, "FIRST REGIMENT, TEXAS MOUNTED RIFLEMEN," accessed May 29, 2020, http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/qkf03.

Uploaded on June 12, 2010. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.
visit the mytsha forums to participate

View these posts and more when you register your free MyTSHA account.

Call for Papers: Texas Center for Working-Class Studies Events, Symposia, and Workshops
Hi all! You may be interested in this call for papers I received from the Texas Center for Working-Class Studies at Collin College...

Katy Jennings' Ride Scholarly Research Request
I'm doing research on Catherine Jennings Lockwood, specifically the incident known as "Katy Jennings' Ride." Her father was Gordon C. Jennings, the oldest man to die at the Alamo...

Texas Constitution of 1836 Co-Author- Elisha Pease? Ask a Historian
The TSHA profile of Elisha Marshall Pease states that he wrote part of the Texas Constitution although he was only a 24 year-old assistant secretary (not elected). I cannot find any other mention of this authorship work by Pease in other credible research about the credited Constution authors...