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Suddenly I can no longer attack any territories anymore, I know I couldn't pay my troops for a while because the place I had that produced gold was lost, but I payed them when I took it back, it looks like that's when the attack option disappeared.
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Hmmm ... so the button to attack the territory has disappeared or when you click to attack, does the progress bar move, but when it reaches completion nothing happens?

If the second, it could be this issue:

Eventually we decided it was "save on quit" causing the bug, but saving manually in the game allowed it to work.

If the first ... so when you click on an enemy or neutrally controlled territory what do you see? Do you see spy, scout, merchant, saboteur, and attack (for an enemy territory) and scout/attack for a neutral territory? Or all of those options but without attack? How many soldiers do you have? Are your military command points full doing something else? I think you need at least 2 free military command points to dedicate to an attack - if you don't have enough, I believe the button does disappear. Also if you "police realm" or something with the army, you can only use the military for as many tasks as you have task bars. You start out with only one task bar, so the military can only be used for one thing at a time at first (though you can use some of its command points for political/management tasks). If the military is already doing something, again the option to attack will disappear. As you gain command points, eventually you gain a task bar so you can do two military actions at once. But again, if the military is already doing two things, the option to attack will disappear.
Post edited April 17, 2012 by crazy_dave
It could very well be the happiness of your people. If they aren't happy enough (I think 3) then you won't be able to attack.

Yes, I just confirmed in the instruction manual:

Castles 2 Manual Pg 17 under Attacking: "In order to attack a territory, you will need two Military Points, a Happiness Rating of at least three (see Happiness), and one Iron."
Post edited April 19, 2012 by gregular