Joel Cloudman
Joel Cloudman
1st District of Columbia Cavalry

Joel Cloudman was a 40 year-old trader, living in Stetson, when he enlisted as a private in the 1st DC Cavalry in August, 1863. The 1st DC Cavalry was organized to be an independent regiment, stationed in Washington, DC.

The unit was under the command of Colonel Lafayette C. Baker. Baker was also a Provost Marshall by title, but his real work was as the head of the nation’s first Secret Service.

Cloudman's cavalry company became known as Baker's Mounted Rangers. For much of its first year, the 1st DC Cavalry belonged to no army and took orders only from the War Department. That also meant that the chain of command extended directly to the President.

Col. Baker liked Cloudman. In less than three months in Baker's Mounted Rangers, Cloudman receives a Captain's commission from President Abraham Lincoln.

By rank, Baker was a Provost Marshall, but his authority and were subject only to the orders of the War Department.

Originally organized in the District of Columbia, in 1863 eight companies of men from Maine were added, so it became in many ways a Maine unit.

Captain Cloudman, with the 140 men of Company D, left Augusta in October 1863, and arrived at Camp Baker soon after. Other regimental officers would be commissioned by Maine's Governor.

Capt. Cloudman wrote to Maine Adjutant General John Hodsdon on how the new group was getting along.

The regiment spent several months in Washington, but in the spring of 1864, most were sent to join General Benjamin Butler's army. At the time, they were the only regiment in the Army of the Potomac armed with the Henry repeating rifle.

The repeating rifle allowed a soldier to fire 15 shots in 10 seconds. Armed with enough rifles and ammunition, a 1000 man regiment could fire 15,000 shots in 10 seconds.

The cavalry unit was engaged in several battles, among them Malvern Hill, Ream's Station and Sycamore Church. Cloudman, promoted to Major, was captured at Sycamore Church, held for a short time, then was reunited with his company, which by then had been transferred to the 1st Maine Cavalry, where they served for the rest of the war.

Joel Cloudman was discharged for disability on February 20, 1865. He died in 1877, in Stetson, where he is buried.

Gen. Hodsdon

Dear Sir

Col Baker is much pleased with the men from Maine Said to me that these men is just what they want in Washington He has the worst set of men here when we came that I ever saw He tells me that he will take out all of the worst men that he now has and Send them to the front in to the Old army he has awarded to Raise a full Regiment for this D.C. Said to me that he would Send me to Maine to Recruit men to fill another Company with the Balance that I now have which is twenty four will want 76 more men if your Honor & the Governor will permit this to those men to be Raised from Maine it will be highly gratifying to Col Baker also to the War department I think you will hear from the department Soon as there is quite an excitement in this City in regard to the Maine men as they term them Candid Honest & Sober men Col Baker is a strict Temperance man if he finds an officer of Rank that is the worse for Liquor he pulls the straps of from his Shoulders at once I think very highly of the Colonel as yet he tells me that every ting shall be carried out to the Letter that he promised to us the officers of my Company will be mustered as officers in to Service today all things is going Right in yet I think that the Boyes will like first Rate I doe not have any Chance to write as yet only on my knee hope I will have a chance Soon will try to write plainer then Please excuse this will let you hear from me soon all the particulars.

PS please inform me the prospect of the privalege to Recruit the Remainder of the 2 Company for this Regiment and Oblige

Your most Obedent Servant

JW Cloudman

Maine State Archives