Meanwhile, news had been brought to Procter of the capture of Frenchtown, and he at once decided to attack the American force there. On January 19th, he assembled a force of nearly 1,000 men, made up of the 41st Regiment, the Royal Newfoundland Regiment, the 10th Royal Veteran Battalion, parts of the 1st and 2nd militia, a number of seamen, and some 450 Indians under Round-head, a Wyandot chief. He had, besides, three 3-pounders and a 52-inch howitzer with their crews. With this force he began his march for the American camp on the morning of the 20th, and on the evening of the 21st had reached a point within five miles of Frenchtown. Procter planned his attack for daybreak the following morning, camp fires were built, and the hardy troops, wrapped in their great-coats and blankets, slept by them under the clear January sky. They were roused two hours before dawn, and the final march on Winchester's position began.
The American general had been culpably negligent. He took it for granted that proper night patrols and night pickets would be posted, and left that to the commanders of the different regiments, who apparently failed to take these ordinary precautions against surprise. On the morning of the 21st, Winchester sent out a patrol who re-ported that they had gone as far as Brownstown opposite Amherstburg and that no enemy was in sight. This had lulled the fears of Winchester and his officers and though they expected attack they deemed that it was still some days distant.
As a result of their neglect Procter's force arrived at daybreak within musket-shot of Frenchtown and formed up behind an orchard and a stretch of hollow ground on the north side of the town before the drowsy camp was aware of their presence. Had Procter assaulted with the bayonet, he would probably have captured the entire army with but small loss of life; but, instead, he drew up his guns and regulars in the centre, posted the militia and Indians on his left and right, and began the battle with artillery fire.