I have just completed a biography of Capt. Richard Eggleston Wilbourn that will be published soon. Capt. Wilbourn was from Torrance, Mississippi and served as chief signal officer for Generals Jackson, Ewell and Early. Pvt. William "Will" Eggleston Cunliffe was from Holmes County, Mississippi and was detailed to Wilbourn’s staff as signalman during winter camp in early 1863. Will and his brother John Richard “Dick” Cunliffe both enlisted in 1861 with 18th Regiment Mississippi Infantry. Their mother was Willie Ann Hardeway Eggleston, a daughter of Richard Eggleston and his first wife Nancy Hill. She was Wilbourn’s aunt making the Cunliffe brothers his first cousins.
On the night of Gen. Jackson’s wounding, Wilbourn placed two of his signalmen in the escort. Wilbourn rode on Jackson’s left side and his signalmen, William T. “Billy” Wynn and Will Cunliffe, rode immediately behind. In the first volley of gunfire, Will and his horse were killed. The following day Wilbourn’s Sgt. Daniel P. Bestor helped bury the fallen signalman. One year later, Will’s brother Dick, died in the Battle of the Wilderness.