General John Nixon was born in Framingham in 1724, the eldest of seven children. He joined the army at an early age, fighting in the French and Indian Wars. In 1754, he married Thankful Berry and settled on 32 acres on the northern side of Nobscot Hill in Sudbury. The site of his home is now part of the Nobscot Boy Scout Reservation.
In light of his strong military background, Nixon was chosen as captain of the Minute Company West Side in September, 1774. A minute company was charged to be ready for battle in a minute's notice. "Come If You Dare" was the minuteman challenge. The Sudbury West Side Company met once a week for 4 hours of training. This group was noted for its "spirit of perseverance." The roll call for 58 men had an average of only 1 absentee for each practice drill.
On April 19, 1775, when Paul Revere's last call was heard, Nixon's company started from the West Side Meeting House and marched quickly toward Concord. They met with troop from other towns at Punkatasset Hill, a mile north of the Concord Meeting House. It is believed that the battle had already begun when Captain Nixon's company reached the North Bridge. They followed the retreating British and engaged them in battle along the route to Lexington.
On April 27, Captain Nixon was promoted to Colonel. Then, on June 16 he led a march of his company to Bunker Hill. The march itself was extremely hazardous, involving many engagements with the British along the route.
It was during the Battle of Bunker Hill that Colonel Nixon's bravery and wisdom were most clearly displayed. The Sudbury soldiers were directed to cover an unguarded gap which was a most exposed position with very little protection or cover. The soldiers bravely held their position even after two assaults by the British. The company then ran out of ammunition and was forced into hand-to-hand fighting. By now, the group was caught between two fires, but refused to abandon the gap. They left their positions only after being ordered by the commanding General, and even so, Colonel Nixon's company was the last to leave the battlefield. Colonel Nixon lost three men in the battle and was himself wounded.
As a result of his brilliant leadership, Nixon was promoted to Brigadier General on August 9, 1775. Nixon continued to serve in the military until 1780 when he retired to private life. In 1806 he moved to Middlebury, Vermont, where he died in 1815 at the age of 90.
Sudbury, A Pictorial History, by Laura Scott, 1989
The History of Sudbury, by Alfred Sereno Hudson, 1889