"Scarlet and blue and snowy white,
The guidon flags flutter gayly in the wind..."
See in text (Text of the Poem)
This poem exhibits precise and colorful imagery, like the "musical clank" of the soldiers' arms and the "silvery river." The speaker seems to be standing at some distance from the scene, able to take in and recount every detail of the sounds and sights as the troops move across the ford. A common theme of Whitman's Civil War poems is the contrast between beauty--like the guidons described here--and the realities of war. In this case, "the negligent rest on their saddles" points to the soldiers' exhaustion.