Smooth-bore, muzzle loading cannon fired a variety of projectiles, from simple to quite specialized.
Round Shot: A solid projectile made, in early times, from dressed stone but, by the 17th century, from cast iron. The most accurate projectile that could be fired by a smooth-bore cannon, used to batter the wooden hulls of opposing ships, forts, or fixed emplacements, and as a long-range anti-personnel weapon. The effect of a careening cannonball bouncing across a field filled with columns of marching men would have been akin to a deadly game of nine pins.
Chain Shot/Bar Shot: A projectile used to slash through the rigging and sails of an enemy ship so that it could no longer maneuvre. Chain shot was two round shot linked by a length of chain. Bar shot was typically two halves of a cannon ball with a solid bar welded between. Called "angels" (possibly because of the fluttering noise they made as they rotated through the air) these were frightening weapons but relatively inaccurate and only used at close range.
Spider Shot: was a variation on chain shot, but it had many chains attached to the multiple balls instead of a single chain between two. It was not used very much, despite its effectiveness against small ships and morale.
Grapeshot: An anti-personnel weapon, similar to canister shot, but with iron shot being stacked around a wooden core and wrapped in a canvas bag, and generally of a larger calibre. So called because of the resemblance of the clustered shot in the bag to a cluster of grapes on the vine. In 19th century variations of this, the shot was held together by a coiled bar, essentially a spring attached to two end plates and was spread by a fused charge in the same way as a shell or the shot was sandwiched in layers between iron plates held by a central bolt. Effective range out to 900 yards.
Canister: A short range anti-personnel projectile made up of small iron round shot or lead musket balls in a tinned metal can, which broke up when fired, scattering the shot throughout the enemy personnel within range, like a large shotgun. It had an effective range from about 250 to 400 yards.
Star Shot or Faggot Shot: A cylindrical wooden shot, either a solid log scored into triangular bars or wooden rods tightly bound by iron bands. When fired they would split and splinter apart creating an effective and inexpensive short range anti-personnel munition.
Case Shot: An iron anti-personnel projectile containing an interior cavity packed with lead or iron round balls around a small bursting charge of just enough force to break open the thin-walled iron projectile. A hollow wooden fuse inserted into a hole in the outer edge of the projectile was designed to be ignited by flame from the propellant charge. Ideally the case shot fuse would detonate the central bursting charge when the projectile was six to ten feet above the heads of the enemy showering them with the iron balls and fragments of the case. Invented in1784 by Lt. Henry Shrapnel, of British Royal Artillery modern shells of this type still bear his name.
Shell: A 19th century explosive anti-material and counter-battery projectile, of iron with a cavity packed with a high explosive bursting charge of powder used to destroy enemy wagons, breastworks, or opposing artillery. Two types of fuses were used--impact fuses that detonated the bursting charge by percussion, and time fuses cut to length measured in seconds and ignited by flame from the propellant charge.
Carcass: An incendiary/antipersonnel projectile designed to burn fiercely and produce poisonous fumes. It was constructed of an iron frame bound with sack cloth and filled with various ingredients such as pitch, antimony, sulphur, saltpeter, tallow and venetian turpentine. It was ignited by the cannon's propellant charge, bursting on impact with the target and releasing noxious fumes while setting fire to its surroundings. It was effectively an early chemical weapon as well as an incendiary projectile.
Hot Shot or Heated Shot: A process where a solid iron cannonball is heated red hot in a specially-designed furnace and then is loaded in a muzzle-loading cannon, cushioned by a substantial thickness of wet wadding such as sod, and is then fired while still red hot, at flammable targets with the intention of setting them on fire. This was a much advocated tactic (and many times a very successful one) for shore based forts defending against attacks by wooden warships. Examples of these small brick furnaces may still be seen at permanently constructed pre-1860 forts in Europe and the United States. The adoption by most navies of iron hulled ships generally made these obsolete. The shot was carried on a specially-designed iron barrow or 2-man litter and, in the era of blackpowder cannon charges contained in cloth bags, occasioned much fanfare and notice as it was conveyed to the cannon muzzle as the red-hot projectile would easily ignite any carelessly handled loose powder. Any reckless or somewhat dangerous individual who seemed to draw trouble to themselves and those around them was referred to as a "Hot Shot", giving rise to the term in common use to this day.