An empty or emptied bottle, esp a liquor bottle •Dead man in the same sense is attested from 1738 (1913+)
Food or plates of food only partially eaten: on the way to the kitchen with the dead soldiers, or leftovers(1920+)
The Dictionary of American Slang, Fourth Edition by Barbara Ann Kipfer, PhD. and Robert L. Chapman, Ph.D. Copyright (C) 2007 by HarperCollins Publishers. Cite This Source
Idioms and Phrases with dead soldier
dead man. An empty liquor, wine, or beer bottle, as in Their trash barrel's full of dead soldiers; they must drink a lot, or That dead man sticking out of your pocket alerted the officer to the fact that you'd been drinking. Dead man has been slang for “empty bottle” since the late 1600s but has been largely replaced by dead soldier, dating from the late 1800s.