The brig Empire, Crosby, sailed to-day from Fortress Monroe, for Port Royal, to open trade. She took out a cargo of fresh provisions, &c.; also a balloon and chemicals, and an apparatus for inflating it, consigned to General Sherman. The balloon is under the direction of Professor Starkweather, and the Aeronautic Department.--The steam frigate Brooklyn arrived at Fortress Monroe, from the Philadelphia Navy Yard, this afternoon.--N. Y. Herald, Dec. 31.
Writs of attachment were filed in the Louisville (Ky.) Chancery Court, under the law subjecting to such process the property of rebels who remain in the so-called Southern Confederacy thirty days after its passage, against Gen. Buckner, ex-Minister Preston, and Edward Crutchfield. Their property amounted to twenty thousand dollars each. Writs were also issued against several other parties for smaller amounts.--Philadelphia Press, Dec. 31.
General Prentiss, with four hundred and fifty troops, encountered and dispersed a body of rebels nine hundred strong, under Colonel Dorsey, at Mount Zion, Boone County, Mo., killing and wounding one hundred and fifty of them, and capturing thirty-five prisoners, ninety-five horses, and one hundred and five guns. The National loss was three killed and eleven wounded.--(Doc. 240.)
Last night the Thirty-fifth Ohio, Colonel Vandeveer, made a silent, cautious march to the Salt Works on Fishing Creek, Ky, with the full expectation of capturing a regiment of  secesh cavalry, who were guarding the works while some of their men were manufacturing salt. But when they arrived there the workmen and cavalry had gone to their camp. So they made a charge on the Salt Works, breaking the kettles, disabling the pumps, and spreading havoc among the utensils generally; after which they marched back to camp, near Somerset.--Louisville Journal, Jan. 4, 1862.
Early this morning two squadrons of Col. Jackson's regiment, under command of Major Murray, left the camp near Calhoun, on a scouting expedition across Green River, Ky. When they arrived at South Carrollton, the squadrons separated, and the first returned toward Calhoun by way of Sacramento, at which place they were surprised by seven hundred rebels, under command of Colonel Forrest. The troops were fired upon by the rebels before they were aware of their presence, and at first believed they were attacked by Major Megowan, of Col. Jackson's cavalry, through mistake. The officers, though the ranks were broken, rallied the troops as soon as they discovered the true state of affairs. and for half an hour officers and men, without exception, displayed the most heroic valor and determination in a hand-to-hand engagement of the bloodiest character, and only retreated when their ammunition gave out. The National loss consisted of Capt. Albert G. Bacon, who was fired upon through a window of a house to which his force had been driven, and thus mortally wounded; Lieutenant R. H. King, of Frankfort, was slightly wounded, and seven or eight privates were wounded more or less severely. The rebels stated their loss at thirty when they reached Greenesville. Among the rebels killed was Lieut.--Col. Meriwether, of Hopkinsville. The rebels left Capt. Bacon in the woods in a dying condition, having stripped him of his watch and rifled his pockets.1--(Doc. 241.)
The Martinsburgh (Va.) Republican, of this date, has the following: We have heard of several attempts to destroy the dams along the Potomac, in Berkeley County, so as to blockade the canal, through which the Yankees receive large quantities of coal and produce. All these efforts have proved abortive, even to that recently made by the far-famed “stone-wall brigade,” if there be any truth in the current reports of the last few days. From those we hear that the boats are still running on the canal from above Dam No. 5. This is not a solid structure of stone, as is stated by the Richmond papers. The dam has been materially damaged ; but from all we can learn, until there is a freshet sufficient to carry away the “pile sheeting,” it will act as a feeder to the canal. We make these statements because we have been disgusted at the lies which the dam exploits have occasioned. In imitation of Yankee exaggeration by Southern writers, the false report found its way into the papers that General Jackson had crossed the river, run off the Unionists, and captured several pieces of cannon. It is true that the fright of the Yankees across the Potomac shows that they confidently expected a visit from Jackson. They were in the greatest excitement at Williamsport and Hagerstown. Many left the latter place, and at the former they had made every preparation to destroy their magazine and other property. One of their correspondents left for the camp of General Banks, and afterward wrote that he had seen fifty of General Jackson's wagons unloading boats, preparatory to crossing the river.
The diplomatic correspondence between the governments of France and England on the one hand, and that of the United States on the other, concerning the question of international law involved in the seizure of Messrs. Mason and Slidell, was made public. The first document is a note from Mr. Seward to Mr. Adams, in which the case is briefly mentioned, and in which Mr. Seward says that the action of Capt. Wilkes was without any instructions from the Government, and he trusted that the British Government would consider the subject in a friendly temper. Then follows a note from Earl Russell to Lord Lyons, dated November 30, reciting the English version of the case — declaring  that the act of Captain Wilkes was an affront to the British flag, and a violation of international law; and announcing that the “liberation of the four gentlemen named, and their delivery to your lordship,” together with a suitable apology for the aggression, alone could satisfy the British nation. To this Mr. Seward responds in a paper, addressed to Lord Lyons, under date of the 26th inst., in which he analyzes at great length the principles of public law involved in the case, and arrives at the conclusion that the Government of the United States would be wrong in refusing to comply with the British demand, so far as relates to the disposition that shall be made of the persons captured. He closes by saying that the “four persons in question will be cheerfully liberated; and your Lordship will please indicate a time and place for receiving them.” No “apology,” however, is offered, because no offence was intended. To this Lord Lyons responds by announcing that he will forward the communication to Her Majesty's Government, and will immediately make arrangements to place the “four gentlemen” again “under the protection of the British flag.” Beside these documents on the Trent case, there is a despatch from M. Thouvenel, the French Minister for Foreign Affairs, to M. Mercier, the “Minister of the Emperor at Washington,” in which Thouvenel pronounces the conduct of the American cruiser unjustifiable, but hopes for a pacific solution of the difficulty. To this Mr. Seward responds in a note to M. Mercier, in which he corrects an error of the Minister of Foreign Affairs, refers him to his correspondence with the British Government, and exchanges assurances of friendship. The settlement of the Trent difficulty affords much gratification, and there is a general expressed acquiescence in the course of the Government, while the despatches of Secretary Seward are viewed in the light of the highest statesmanlike ability.