The feigned retreat was a classic tactic of steppe warfare practiced since ancient times. Principally the tactic involved sending a token force of well disciplined men (usually light cavalry) to engage a larger force of enemy. Having made a show strength this force would then break off and retreat in supposed defeat, drawing the enemy after them in pursuit. This retreat might extend for a great distance in order to stretch the enemy’s ranks and formations. Then at a prearranged location the pursuers would be suddenly attacked from the flanks, whilst the ‘fleeing’ force would wheel around to attack the enemy’s front once again.
Perhaps one of the most famed example of the successful employment of a feigned retreat occurred in 1223, when Mongol Generals Jebe and Süberdei engaged a combined army of Turks and Rus along the Dnieper River. The Mongols retreated, luring the Kipchaks and Rus for several days deep into the steppe, until they reached the Kalka River. Here, concealed, lay the main force of the Mongol Army who promptly fell upon and destroyed the Allied force.