beat a retreat

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Related to beat a retreat: beat out, beat the bushes
See: evacuate, quit
References in classic literature ?
But here are the regulars: so the auxiliary forces may beat a retreat.
The waves generously rise and dash angrily, taking sides with all water-fowl, and our sportsmen must beat a retreat to town and shop and unfinished jobs.
Draw back, therefore, and call your chieftains round you, that we may advise together whether to fall now upon the ships in the hope that heaven may vouchsafe us victory, or to beat a retreat while we can yet safely do so.