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Let me give you a simple scenario, let's say two huge armies are attacking each other, thousands of soldiers are attacking, one of the armies starts to have a lot of casualties and begins to retreat (maybe surrounded), making soldiers escaping hard. What would prevent a normal soldier(not a king) to fake his death then escape when less troops are there?

Yes, I know it's too risky, but are there some incidences fake death happened?

(I am imagining a combat before cannons and rifles)

closed as unclear what you're asking by Semaphore, Mark C. Wallace, Pieter Geerkens, CGCampbell, Kobunite Jul 6 '15 at 9:22

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    For nobility it was better to be captured alive - one could live with his opponent in his castle, awaiting for ransom to be paid. Ordinary soldiers were being killed, because cost of their support (food) was too large. There were no "prisoner-of-war" concept. Every dead man was checked to have some valuables - if seen alive, he got killed. In my opinion, it was better to run away. – Voitcus Jul 2 '15 at 9:55
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    Are you asking for examples of people faking death in combat? There would be any number of cases throughout history. – Semaphore Jul 2 '15 at 10:06
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    An ordinary soldier can't fake his death "to avoid losing a battle" - an ordinary soldier doesn't "lose a battle". I am confident that someone can find evidence of someone faking their death in order to desert - somewhat difficult to document because people tend not to record evidence of crimes that bear the death penalty, but I'm sure someone can find one. – Mark C. Wallace Jul 2 '15 at 11:05
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    I also think we should not vote for closing this question but try to help the OP to improve it, as he has some problems with English. – Voitcus Jul 2 '15 at 11:58
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    @Voitcus the purpose of voting to close is to put a hold on answering while the question gets fixed. Helping the OP edit it is not mutually exclusive with voting to close the question. You can vote to reopen once it gets into a satisfactory state. – Semaphore Jul 2 '15 at 12:11
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Nothing would prevent that; it is common. One term for this is to Lie Doggo and there are some examples referenced in the wiktionary article on the term. I'm not sure how one distinguishes "faking death" from "hiding".

Here is another example

The eminent neologistician has citation files from Prof. Allen Walker Read including this World War I Aemrican entry: "...sometimes the man isn't dead, but a perfectly live Boche patrol lying 'doggo'. [ R.D. Holmes, Yankee in Trenches (1918, 80 ] [ with a p. 210 Glossary entry: ] Doggo --- Still. Quiet. East Indian derivation." (Now, that's how to do a citation: Oll Korrect. (CQ O,K) It's a pleasure to deal with old pros.) Prof. Algeo guesses that the expression "may have been an Irishism that spread via the British army in India."

My father-in-law was separated from his unit during WWII and behind enemy lines for months; the result was a chest full of decorations. Before he made it back to his unit they were in the process of declaring him dead. He didn't "fake" his death, he simple was lost behind enemy lines.

Another example is going to be very common; a soldier is wounded and unconscious, but awakens before the dead are buried. This is not an example of "faking death", but fits some of OP's requirements.

OP's question imposes some very strange assumptions. "one of the armies starts to have a lot of casualties and starts to retreat" - I don't have a citation, but there is a West Point Study that shows that almost all armies will rout before they reach 40% casualties. Every time one side routs, the soldiers lose disciple and retreat in disorder from the battlefield. This will include some combination of running and hiding that is, as far as I can tell, no different from "faking one's death".

OP also suggests that the losing force may be on the verge of being surrounded; this would be unusual. Most armies will rout before they are surrounded - the times when one army is able to envelop another are studied as examples of brilliant leadership.

OP may be asking for a situation where someone does more than lie doggo, but employs active deception, perhaps coating oneself with blood from another wound. I don't have any sources to mind.

There is another term that would shed some light on this question - there is a prejorative word for people who scavenge the battlefield and loot the dead or nearly dead. One of the reasons that they are held in such contempt is that they have a reputation for "assisting" the wounded to die so that they can steal their worldly goods (and sometimes even their teeth). If I could remember that term, I might be able to search for examples that align with what OP wants.

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    I'd like to hear more about your father in law - getting lost behind enemy lines for months? – Evil Washing Machine Jul 2 '15 at 16:18
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    The Wikipedia article on Camp follower has some useful information. I haven't read much non-fiction that would help, but Terry Goodkind's Sword of Truth series depicts camp followers much as described by Wikipedia. With non-combatants following behind and outnumbering the winning army looting the dead, it would be a poor decision to "play dead" on the battlefield because some camp follower would ensure your death once they happened upon you. – Paul Rowe Jul 2 '15 at 17:51
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    your answer covers many things and contain useful information. – moudiz Jul 2 '15 at 23:03
  • The word you are looking for in your last paragraph is, I think, Marauder; in Russian it means precisely what you are looking for, but in English it seems to have a broader meaning. – sds Jul 7 '15 at 22:45

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