May 29, 1864 was a day of consolidation for the Army of the Potomac and the Army of Northern Virginia. Each side maneuvered into positions facing each other along Totopotomoy Creek. There was also little rest for the tired troopers of the Yankee Cavalry Corps. While out on picket duty, Newel Cheney, an officer in the 9th New York Cavalry, remembered an encounter that he had that highlighted the impacts of the war on the local population.
He recalled that the regiment “moved back to Hanovertown and finding a good camping ground…bivouacked for the night [May 28] and slept quietly until morning. The Second and Sixth Corps were at the front, the Fifth Corps at Hanovertown and Burnside’s Corps moving up. On Sunday, May 29, the regiment moved from Hanovertown down the river to New Castle crossing, some of the same rich plantations crossed on May 20, and bivouacked near a fine old mansion surrounded by a park of oak trees, shrubbery, vines and flowers, on the bluff overlooking the bottom lands of the Pamunkey. It was owned by Widow Tomlinson and adjoined the fine plantation of Widow Braxton”.
One Empire Stater inquired of the inhabitants as to how there were so many widows in the area. To this came the reply “They have all been widows since about the time McClellan was here”.