As night falls general Poniatowski, commander of XIII Polish corps, must make the most important decision of the campaign. He has been tasked to hold Peine, the last town east of Hanover.
He had suffered heavy casualties at the first battle of Helmstedt five days earlier. He retreated to Peine with his battered corps, and since then had rested and regrouped. His corps was once more full strength and ready for battle.
He was aware that Blucher was marching on Peine with at least two, and possibly three, corps. He has just received a message from Davout promising to support him with two corps if he was attacked, but that both were carrying heavy casualties. Furthermore he could not expect reinforcements until move 38 at the earliest.
Davout left it to Poniatowski to decide whether he could hold the town until reinforced. If he considered he was unable to do so, he should retreat north to join the main French army at Celle.
This would leave the road to Hanover open to the Prussians, and would signal the end of the campaign.
Polish pride decided the matter. Another retreat was unacceptable. Poniatowski would stop the Prussian advance at Peine, or die in the attempt.