On the night of 15 July 1812, a combined force of British regulars, voyageurs, and Dakota (Sioux), Chippewa, Ottawa, Winnebago, and Menominee warriors silently crossed the waters of Lake Huron to Michilimackinac Island. The island was the site of an American trading post, Fort Mackinac, that commanded the narrow waters between lakes Huron, Michigan, and Superior.
A burly Scotsman, Robert Dickson, led the Dakota war party. He had lived among the Dakota for 20 years. Captain Charles Roberts commanded the British troops and voyageurs, while Amable Chevalier headed the Ottawa warriors. As the force approached the island, they met a canoe carrying Michael Dousman. Dousman was an American fur trader, well known among many members of the British force.
Dousman volunteered important information about Fort Mackinac, including the fact that the garrison was not aware that war had been declared. With Dousman's help, Captain Roberts rounded up the civilian inhabitants. When the American garrison commander, Lieutenant Porter Hanks, awoke on the morning of 16 July, he discovered that the fort was in British hands. He and his men were prisoners of war. The first British victory of the war was a bloodless one.