It turns out that I’m not the only one in my family to miss something by a day. Here’s a story of my 7th great grandfather:
According to his pension application, Aden Palmer enlisted at Boston in January 1776, as a private in the company commanded by Captain Christopher Smith in Colonel James Mitchel Varnum’s Regiment under General Green, Rhode Island Line, of the Continental Establishment. Aden participated in the Battle of New York Island (the "Orchard Fight"), the Battle of Trenton, and the Battle of Princeton, NJ. Aden served for more than one year, being discharged at Springfield, near Morristown, NJ.
Varnum’s Regiment took part in the Battle of New York in August 1776, where they were on the losing side. Aden would have been a part of Washington’s retreat from New York, across New Jersey to Pennsylvania. The regiment then joined George Washington’s main continental army under the division of General Nathanial Greene. Aden would have been there in Pennsylvania as the army prepared to cross the Delaware River to attack Trenton, NJ. Aden’s unit, however, was sent to cross the Delaware at Bristol, PA, 12 miles below Trenton as a diversionary tactic. Unfortunately, ice jamming the river at that point made the crossing impossible. Aden’s unit was therefore not with Washington’s army during the famous crossing of the Delaware River overnight Dec. 25-26. That main force under General Washington made a surprise attach on Trenton, NJ, on December 26, 1776, in a major victory for the continental army.
Varnum’s Regiment was able to cross the river and join Washington in Trenton the following day. The Regiment helped Washington to set up defensive lines around Trenton, and Aden would have participated on January 2, 1777, when British and Hessian reinforcements attempted to break the lines.
Varnum’s men were placed on the left flank, near the Delaware River. The assault was repelled and Washington left a few men to create a diversion as the continental army quietly withdrew and headed for Princeton, NJ. On January 3rd, on the way to Princeton, the army met a British force bound for Trenton and forced them to retreat. Aden may well have participated in the successful bayonet charge led by Washington himself. It was now deep into winter and the army went into winter quarters near Morristown, NJ. Aden received his discharge and headed back to Connecticut and family.
He missed the famous crossing of the Delaware by one day!