Why didn't the South mount an all out attack on Washington D.C. early in the war? Even if it was not entirely successful, lobbing some shells into DC might have shook up the government enough to maybe get a settlement of some kind instead of letting the battles be taken to them on their own ground.
The army was disorganized in the aftermath of First Manassas and they felt that one victory would be enough to ensure an independent nation. I'm not even sure if they had the logistical system necessary to support such an offensive. Plus, I think there was also a desire to be seen by the rest of the world as fighting a defensive war and not as conquerors.
____________________ "Cleburne is here!" meant that all was well. -Daniel Harvey Hill
An Attack on Washington? Sure....How 'bout a scenario of the spring of 1862, The C.S.S. Virginia forces a passage past Fortress Monroe, in company with her escort vessels. Four Coal barges mounting two 10" Seacoast Mortars and carrying 75-100 infantrymen each are towed with rapidity to the Norfolk side of Fortress Monroe by tugboats, which themselves are fitted to launch Congreve type rockets. It's 5 am on the morning of March 8, 1862 when the assault force opens on Monroe. Cocurrent with all this noise is a Confederate Cavalry force moving across the peninsula towards the Potomac,packing wagons stuffed with dories, oars and light artillery. The C.S.S. Virginia takes up station off the Washington Navy Yard, in position to support the amphibious Confederate move from the Virginia side of the river. A Confederate line is established at the Navy Yard extending northward to the District line by noon. The Lincoln Government, in panic, abandons the District of Columbia while General Winfield Scott attempts to rally forces to counter. The last Federal holdout surrenders at Fortress Monroe at I pm.
This is a topic I cover extensively in my secession chapter of my Anna Ella Carroll biography, Great Necessities: The Life, Times, and Writings of Anna Ella Carroll, 1815-1894 which no one seems to want to pay attention to, since I could not engage a "real" publisher (published through http://www.xlibris.com/1-888-795-4274).
The person who saved DC was Robert E. Lee. When he was amassing troops in VA during the last weeks of April 1861, he took a strictly defensive stand as his forces were untrained and unequipped and arriving by the day. Radicals, however, wanted to attack the capital. The plot to assassinate Lincoln on the way through B'more was all part of a coup plot. Winfield Scott had stationed militia in rooms off the main room where Breckinridge read the electoral vote count in Feb., in case an attempt was made to abort it. A standing army had been recruited inside Washington DC, formed from former Dem clubs that had turned into Southern militia units. Southern roughs had been pouring into town since the inaugration to be part of the revolutionary mobs (perhaps members of the Knights of the Golden Circle as L. Q. Washington was involved). There were also 3,000 MD militia ready to march on DC if MD seceded. All RR and telegraph lines to the North were cut and the 7th NY and 8th MA came by ship, landed at Annapolis and marched across MD, with the 7th NY arriving ca. noon on 4/25. Once the train lines were fixed more federal troops poured into DC. On 4/26 Lincoln approved suspension of the writ of habeas corpus. By 5/1 it was over, as a Confederate agent wrote. Later Butler occupied Baltimore. But had Lee gone on the offensive between 4/15 and 4/25, they could have taken the capital.
I'm also under the impression that Washington remained an objective, as I think, the call at Bull Run was: "on to Washington."