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.
Maine State Archives