The town is located three miles west of the restored village of Appomattox Court House, the site of Confederate General Robert E. Lee's surrender to Union General Ulysses S. Grant on April 9, 1865, signaling the end of the American Civil War. The site of the historic courthouse village is now preserved as Appomattox Court House National Historical Park and is administered by the National Park Service.
At the time of the Civil War, the present community of Appomattox was the site of a railroad depot on the line between Petersburg and Lynchburg. At the end of the Civil War, Robert E. Lee made a last desperate attempt to reach this depot, hoping that he could move the Army of Northern Virginia south to meet the Joseph E. Johnston's Army of Tennessee which was then located in the Carolinas. The arrival of Federal troops blocking Lee's army from the depot was what led to his surrender.
The inconvenience of the railroad's location to Appomattox Court House led to the decline of the courthouse community. After fire destroyed the courthouse building in 1892, the county relocated the court to the depot area, which formally became the county seat in 1894.
In 1990 there were 295 residents reported for Appomattox County while the Town of Appomattox had 1703 residents.
There were 716 households out of which 29.3% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 42.7% were married couples living together, 20.0% had a female householder with no husband present, and 34.4% were non-families. 30.4% of all households were made up of individuals and 17.2% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.35 and the average family size was 2.92.
In the town the population was spread out with 23.9% under the age of 18, 8.6% from 18 to 24, 27.4% from 25 to 44, 20.8% from 45 to 64, and 19.2% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 39 years. For every 100 females there were 82.3 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 75.2 males.
The median income for a household in the town was $24,167, and the median income for a family was $29,188. Males had a median income of $26,515 versus $20,732 for females. The per capita income for the town was $14,355. About 20.9% of families and 18.4% of the population were below the poverty line, including 26.4% of those under age 18 and 22.9% of those age 65 or over.