Chandler feared a night attack and had his army prepared to spring to arms at a moment's notice.
At about 11:30 p.m. Harvey had his force of "704 firelocks" ready. It mustered 280 officers and men of the 8th Regiment under Major Ogilvie, and 424 of the 49th Regiment under Major Plenderleath. The troops had all smelt powder and they were led by courageous and experienced officers. Before midnight the British left their camp on their seven mile march. The roads were heavy with mud, but this deadened their foot-falls. The night was starless, thick clouds helping to conceal them. Soon the fires at the foot of the slope where the Americans were stationed were visible and the critical moment had arrived. It was to be a complete surprise; the bayonet was to do the work. For fear of an accidental shot that might alarm the foe, the force was halted when about a mile from the enemy's position, the muskets were carefully examined and "every flint was taken out and every charge drawn." The first American outpost was reached a little before 3 a.m. The advance guard stole upon the drowsy sentry and made him a prisoner, gaining from him valuable information. The main guard at the church suspected no danger, and the misty, chilly night in the open not being to their liking, they had entered the building to sleep till dawn. The church was stealthily surrounded and the guard captured.
Seeing the sentries moving in the light of the smouldering fires the British fully expected to find at least a portion of Chandler's army resting at the spot. Silently their advance guard stole upon the sentries and bayoneted several of them in the "quietest manner," to use the words of Harvey. But the death cry of some of the sentries alarmed others and warning shots were fired and shouts were raised. As they were now discovered Harvey's men threw caution to the winds, and rushed into the line of watch-fires fully expecting to make short work of a considerable body of the enemy. To their chagrin they found that they were in an empty encamp-