The advance guard of Braddocks expedition consisted of 100 grenadiers of the 44th, under Lieut. Colonel the Hon. Thomas Gage. It was followed by a party of axemen, two field guns, with ammunition wagons and their guard. The advance guard had just crossed a wooded ravine eight miles from the fort, when the scouts suddenly fell back. They had sighted a figure hurrying along the path, dressed as an Indian, but with an officer's gorget. It turned out to be the French commander, Beaujeu, who had just disposed his tiny force of 900 in semi-circular formation, with the French in the centre, hidden from view by the trees and inequalities of the ground. It comprised Regulars, Canadians and Indians, of whom the last- numbered 650. Their opening fire caused severe loss to Gage's men, who, however, wheeled into line and commenced volley firing, which killed the French commander.
The company of grenadiers were quickly overwhelmed by the more accurate fire of the enemy.
Although the French were temporarily checked by three rounds of grape and canister from the guns and by the spirited advance of the British main body, shouting "God save the King," there was considerable confusion caused by crowding from behind, and several men in the front were afterwards found to have been killed by fire from their comrades in the rear. By this time all the grenadiers had fallen save eleven and the survivors utilized a prone tree as a breastwork, from which they maintained an effective fire.