Explosive projectiles were used during Revolutionary War battles:
Exploding projectiles are depicted in each of the battles in the film: Camden, Cowpens and Yorktown. Non-exploding cannonballs are also shown ripping through the lines of men on the battlefield inflicting horrible injuries. In a scene cut from the movie, the effects of cannonball fire on horses was filmed.
While solid cannonballs and other projectiles such as chains were used to rip through battle lines as in the movie, explosive projectiles had not yet been invented.
Cannonballs and shot were used to inflict damage on men and horses through sheer force. They were also employed during sieges to demolish buildings again through force.