George C. Drake was the first Wisconsin soldier killed in the Civil War.
George was the oldest of five children born to William and Jane (nee Carr) Drake in Pennsylvania. His younger brother, J. West Drake, died shortly before his seventh birthday. In 1856 George, his parents and his three sisters, Esther, Mary, and Emma, moved to Milwaukee, WI where his parents set up a boarding house.
As the Civil War approached, George enlisted in the Milwaukee Light Guards, somewhat against his parents' wishes. He left Milwaukee on June 9, 1861 with the First Regiment of Wisconsin Volunteers, as a private in Company A. He was killed in the first engagement of the troops, at Falling Waters, on July 2, 1861.
Supposedly, George predicted that he would not survive the war. At Camp Scott, he had said in his tent one night that he did not expect to return home. While he was wading the Potomac River at dawn on July 2nd, he commented to a companion, "We are going into battle, and I expect to be among the first to fall."
It was reported that George C. Drake died almost instantly as a fatal bullet entered his body near the heart. He supposed uttered, with a scarcely audible voice, a single last word -- "Mother."
His body was carried to the village of Williamsport, from which the troops had set out early the morning of the battle. He was not able to be buried right away, but through the efforts of one Captain Kennedy and other loyal citizens of the town, he was fittingly buried with military honors. His body was later moved to Antietam National Cemetery.