May, 1754, Washington, then but twenty-two years of age, passed with his command along the banks of the Monongahela. His advance guard, under Ensign Ward, constructed near Fort Duquesne a small fort or block-house, which was forthwith attacked and captured by the French, and its defenders made prisoners. Contrecceur, the commandant at Duquesne, sent an officer named Jumonville, with an escort of thirty-four men, to seek the English leader in his camp at Great Meadows, and to warn him off what he claimed to be French territory. Jumonville arrived by night near Washington's camp about the end of May. His detachment was observed by Washington's scouts and promptly surrounded. Jumonville gave no indication that he was on a diplomatic mission, and the men under him rushed to arms as soon as they saw the English troops. A skirmish resulted, in which Jumonville and nine of his party were killed, the remainder, with the exception of one man who escaped by flight, being taken prisoner. Governor Dinwiddie approved of Washington's attack on Jumonville, claiming that the French officer owed his fate to his own imprudence. This affair, when it became known in Canada and in France, excited intense feeling, the death of Jumonville being characterized by the terms murder and assassination.
After his encounter with Jumonville, Washington constructed a stockaded post, Fort Necessity, situated in a hollow between two eminences, and surrounded on three sides by a thick forest. From this point he proposed marching against Fort Duquesne, but was delayed while awaiting reinforcements from Virginia. Contreceeur, at Fort Duquesne, on learning of the fate of his subordinate officer, immediately commissioned Jumonville's brother, Coulon de Villiers, to lead a band of 600 Frenchmen and 100 Indians against the English. Villiers, arriving near Fort Necessity on July 3rd, disposed his troops within gunshot on the contiguous high land, but concealed among the bushes and trees,