In late 1862, the Division commander, Major General D. H. Hill, sent down an order stating “that the last campaign had fully demonstrated to the Major General commanding the impossibility of getting on without regularly trained sharpshooters.” He placed Robert Rodes in charge of the project and directed him to appoint an officer of grade major or above “conspicuous for gallantry and coolness in action.” Rodes assigned Major Blackford of the 5th Alabama Infantry Regiment to command the Corps of Sharpshooters. So, under the guidance of Robert Rodes and Eugene Blackford, in mid January 1863 an elite Battalion of Sharpshooters was formed.
About 4 picked men from each Company of the Brigade were selected for the unit. Only the best were accepted. Any man that did not meet Blackford’s strict standards of soldiering, marksmanship, and fidelity to the Southern cause was sent back to his company. Initially, the Battalion was made up of about 180-200 men. Not long after, Robert Rodes was promoted to Major General and took over D. H. Hill’s Division. He immediately ordered the formation of additional battalions of sharpshooters in his other brigades.