On July 2, 1812, the schooner Cuyahoga Packet is sailing up the Detroit River when it is spotted on the Canadian side, at Amherstburg, by Lieutenant Frederic Rolette. Cuyahoga is sailing slowly past the British fort. The day before General William Hull's American Army of the Northwest had reached Lake Erie. Hull still did not know that war had been declared. He hired the Cuyahoga to carry his personal baggage, band instruments and sick soldiers upriver. His personal baggage includes his journals, war plans and all his correspondence with Secretary of War William Eustis. The rest of the army continued to cut their way through the Michigan forests on their way to Detroit.
When Rolette spots the Cuyahoga, he rows out with six armed men in a longboat. Captain Chapin of the Cuyahoga is surprised when Rolette demands that he surrender his vessel and men. After some hesitation and a warning shot from Rolette, the captain is convinced to surrender. In any event, he is not in a position to resist. All the arms of the Cuyahoga are stowed below deck. There are thirty soldiers on board but they are too sick to fight.
After securing the vessel, Rolette informs Captain Chapin that the United States has declared war. Rolette also "liberates" some musical instruments. As the Cuyahoga sets sail for Fort Malden, Rolette forces the Americans to play "God Save The King."
Later, Rolette discovers Hull's personal baggage with the cargo that had been captured. These documents provide valuable intelligence that is forwarded to General Brock.