Throughout the winter of 1862-63, Union Major General Ulysses S. Grant orchestrated a series of Bayou Expeditions aimed at capturing Vicksburg. The Steele's Bayou Expedition was the most daring of these operations and was personally led by Rear Admiral David D. Porter. Federal forces hoped to gain access to the Yazoo River above the Confederate batteries at Snyder's Bluff from where they could move northward to the aid of the Yazoo Pass Expedition or south directly against Vicksburg. The Steele's Bayou Expedition was Major General Ulysses Grant's most determined unsuccessful attempt to take the strategic city of Vicksburg.
The Union's plan for gaining control of the Mississippi River was to isolate Vicksburg by out flanking Confederate batteries at Snyder's Bluff and gaining control of the Yazoo River and Mississippi Delta.