The British had anticipated Gist's maneuvers and had quietly drifted downriver. Before Laurens could reach Chehaw Point, 150 soldiers set up an ambush along the road to the point. Gist discovered the British departure at 4 am and immediately led 150 cavalry after Laurens.
While sources disagree whether Laurens ordered an attack or was surprised in the ambush, battle was engaged, and Laurens fell with mortal wounds in the first volley. The artillery captain also fell, as did others, and the troops retreated in disarray, leaving the howitzer behind. Gist and the cavalry arrived in time to cover their retreat, but he was unable to recover the howitzer or dislodge the British from their position.